The Manbij Military Council, a group allied to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, said on Wednesday that the Kurdish YPG militia would remove its military advisers from the flashpoint town in the coming days after the agreement was reached in Washington on Monday between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The two sides agreed on a joint work to end a bilateral dispute over the presence of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) troops in Manbij.
David L. Phillips, Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, called the agreement ‘a strategic blunder’.
After U.S and Turkey agreed on new deal, Professor Phillips made a statement on ‘Deploring the deal on Manbij’.
Phillips said in the statement that “ The agreement between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to withdraw Kurdish fighters from Manbij in northern Syria is a strategic blunder, which undermines the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State.”
“Jihadists in the Free Syrian Army, (FSA) backed by Turkey.” added David L. Phillips, an expert on Kurdish issues.
Phillips also recalled the recent operation by Turkish military in Afrin.“Recent experience in Afrin is illustrative. After occupying Afrin, the FSA committed atrocities including beheading Kurds, mutilating bodies, and looting property.”
According to Phillips, “The Trump administration’s deal to remove the YPG from Manbij has been taken over objections from the U.S. Defense Department.The People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian Kurdish fighters served as America’s boots on-the-ground retaking Raqqa and defeating ISIS in Syria.”
He also point out that allowing Turkey and the FSA to occupy Manbij is tantamount to inviting extremists to control territory that the U.S. and its Kurdish partners fought to liberate from jihadis.
“Abandoning the Kurds to Turkey casts doubt on America’s commitments to other groups fighting ISIS around the world.” Phillips stated.
‘Who will fight and die when called upon by the United States when partnerships are purely expedient?’ asked Professor Phillips.
The YPG were the primary partnered-ground force in the liberation of Manbij from ISIS in 2016.