Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ankara will unilaterally drive the PKK-linked YPG from the Syrian border if it does not reach an agreement with US on a plan to remove the group from Syria's Manbij.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (AA)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaking in an interview with AA said that if the US and Turkey cannot agree on a path forward in Manbij, Turkey will take unilateral action to clear the PKK-linked YPG from the northern Syrian city.

"If this plan is not realised, the only option left will be clearing away terrorists. This is not just valid for Syria, but also for Iraq," Cavusoglu said.

The minister also said that the administration and security of the area would be determined through demography after the YPG retreats from Manbij.

"Demography is going to be the key criteria in Manbij," Cavusoglu said.

He said if the Manbij model gets implemented successfully then there would not be a need for an operation in Iraq's Sinjar, where PKK militants have set up a stronghold.

However, if the plan in Manbij remains unimplemented then the terrorists would be hit “not just on the east side of the Euphrates River, but also in Iraq," Cavusoglu added.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army recently cleared the Afrin town centre of the YPG during Operation Olive Branch, which was launched on January 20.

Turkey considers the PKK to be a terrorist organisation, as does the US and the EU. However, while the US considers the YPG and ally on the ground in Syria, Turkey insists the group is a branch of the PKK.

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah brings us the latest.

Looting Claims

Regarding claims of looting in Syria's Afrin, Cavusoglu said that Turkey is "seriously" looking into these allegations.

"We – the Turkish nation, state and government – are against everything inhumane," Cavusoglu said.

"Our soldiers and the Free Syrian Army are not YPG/PKK terrorists."

The foreign minister added that groups like the YPG/PKK-Daesh carried out looting in Afrin during attempts to ethnically cleanse the region. 

He said all complaints about looting would be taken seriously.

"When there are complaints on such an issue, we have to take it seriously."

The top diplomat also said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump will speak over the phone later on Thursday.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies