Turkey perceives the US-backed YPG as a security threat in northern Syria and Ankara's upcoming military operation is aimed against the group.
Turkey will soon launch another military operation against the US-backed YPG in northern Syria. The country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked US forces to clear the contentious Manbij town of YPG forces so as to avert any direct confrontation with Washington.
YPG forces are embedded with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbij, where Turkey and the US recently announced to conduct joint patrols.
The YPG is a Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is a designated terror group in the US, the EU and Turkey. The PKK has launched a three-decades long armed campaign against the Turkish state.
"We are now calling on the US to clear Manbij once and for all, so that the rightful residents can go back to their own lands. Or else we will walk into Manbij," said Erdogan.
"Turkey has wasted enough time by not intervening in the swamp of terror to the east of the Euphrates. From now on, we will not tolerate even one day of delay in the clearance of Manbij," he said.
A spokesman for Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), whose forces will possibly participate in the upcoming operation, also indicated that Manbij will be one of the targeted areas.
“The battle will be launched simultaneously from several fronts. It will be in Manbij and Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn,” said Major Youssef Hamoud.
The towns are spread over a vast territory mostly located between the east and west of the Euphrates river, but in a close proximity to the Turkish border. In previous operations, the Euphrates Shield and the Olive Branch, Turkey took control of several key locations after defeating both the YPG and Daesh. The upcoming operation aims to target the YPG areas east of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria.
The upcoming operation may also put Turkey and the US, two NATO allies, at odds due to the US decision to continue treating the armed group as its ally in the fight against Daesh. The US refuses to accept any connection between the PKK and the YPG, despite Turkey providing strong evidence proving the relationship.
Experts in Turkey argue that its NATO ally has ‘long-term designs’ aimed at creating a YPG-led Kurdish-dominated autonomous region, which could be a mirror image of the Kurdish autonomous region Washington carved out in northern Iraq in the 1990s, soon after the first Gulf War.
The YPG recruits most of its cadres from the Kurdish-populated areas of northern Syria, which neighbours Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern region.
Soon after the Assad regime withdrew from northern Syria during the civil war, the YPG moved in, creating ‘cantons’, or autonomous areas, in the region in 2012.
Turkey has repeatedly said that the country will not allow a PKK-imposed Kurdish corridor ranging from northern Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea.