US does not know how many PYD fighters in Manbij
Pentagon believes PKK/PYD abiding by commitment to withdraw from Manbij.
Kasim Ileri - WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. military does not know how many PKK/PYD fighters remain in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
“We heard very publicly the announcement from the YPG that they were moving east of Euphrates,” agency spokesman Peter Cook said. “That's what we've called for and will continue to call for”.
He added: "I cannot tell you with one-hundred percent certainty the disposition of every single person in Manbij and where they came from.”
The Kurdish PYD militant group’s military wing YPG’s presence in the predominantly Arab city is the latest in a string of tensions between the U.S. and Turkey.
Ankara has asked Washington not to support the PYD and YPG, because of their separatist motivations and affiliation with the PKK terror group. But American special operation forces are still training the group while U.S. aircraft give air support.
As YPG elements crossed the Euphrates River and helped Arab fighters drive Daesh from the town located on the west bank of the river, the Pentagon has insisted YPG fighters would withdraw from Manbij after Daesh is defeated there.
Manbij was retaken in early summer but YPG militants are still in the city.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Tuesday that the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition group, Free Syrian Army, would move into Manbij to remove YPG from the town after the group captured al-Bab, a northwestern town still under Daesh control.
“We understand the concerns expressed by Turkey,” Cook told reporters. “They have legitimate security concerns.”
Cook acknowledged tensions in the region, adding that as the leader of the coalition fighting Daesh, the U.S. is trying to “deconflict operations” against the terror group in northern Syria.
“There are local forces in Manbij now that are securing Manbij against the threat of ISIL returning and we'll continue to address Turkish concerns about the makeup of those forces,” Cook said.Recently, Turkey struck YPG positions around al-Bab, killing scores of YPG fighters.
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