Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Manbij belongs to Arabs and that the PYD and YPG should leave the area. Separately, Syrian regime forces are closing in on Manbij.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey does not plan or aim to stay in Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey does not plan or aim to stay in Syria.

Turkey's next target in its ongoing military operations in Syria will be SDF-held Manbij, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"Manbij belongs to Arabs, not to the PYD or YPG. This is not their place to stay," Erdogan said.

The YPG is the armed wing of the Kurdish PYD — the Syrian affiliate of the PKK — which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the EU. The SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) is dominated by the YPG, which captured Manbij from Daesh last year with US backing.

TRT World's Abubakr al Shamahi has more on the president's statement and what it means.

Erdogan said that Turkey does not plan or aim to stay in Syria.

PYD or YPG should move to the west of the Euphrates. We have said this to our ally US. The US has promised us that they wouldn't stay there but so far it didn't happen.

Regime on Manbij perimeter

Erdogan's remarks came as Syrian regime forces closed in on Manbij after taking several villages from retreating Daesh, reports and a war monitor said on Tuesday.

Syrian regime forces opened a new corridor between two territories held by the YPG, redrawing the map of the conflict near the Turkish border, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The advance brings the regime forces closer to areas held by Turkish-backed opposition rebels.

Turkey and its opposition allies are waging a campaign against Daesh and PKK-affiliated groups in Syria near the Turkish border.

The SDF said the Syrian regime's advance would bring benefits to civilians in the area.

TRT World's Abubakr al Shamahi explains how the regime and SDF forces cooperate in the region.

Elsewhere in Syria

SOHR said six civilians were killed and 21 others injured on Monday in regime air strikes on the rebel-held town of Marat Masrin in Idlib province.

The monitor said that fierce fighting is underway between several rebel factions and Daesh in southern Daraa province for a third straight day.

Last Sunday, Jayish Khalid Bin Walid, a Daesh-linked group in Daraa, launched attacks on opposition-held areas and managed to capture several towns and hills from the rebels who were busy fighting the regime forces in Daraa city.

They said that rebel groups were forced to suspend their offensive against regime forces and redeploy their forces to repel Daesh attacks.

SOHR said more than 65 fighters from both sides have been killed so far.

UNSC vote on draft resolution

The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria for the use of chemical weapons.

Russia says it will use its veto to block the measure, making it the seventh time that Moscow has resorted to its veto power to shield Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

The proposed resolution drafted by US, Britain and France would slap sanctions on 11 Syrian nationals and 10 entities linked to chemical attacks in the nearly six-year war.

It would also ban the sale, supply or transfer of helicopters and related materiel, including spare parts, to the Syrian regime.

The proposals follow a UN-led investigation which concluded in October that the regime air force had dropped chlorine barrel-bombs from helicopters on three opposition-held villages in 2014 and 2015.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said on Friday that Moscow would veto the measure because it was "one-sided" and based on "insufficient proof."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies