Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he told both US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that “Turkey will not step back in Syria”, vowing that the ongoing campaign in Afrin will be expanded to other parts of the war-torn country, including Manbij.
“Last night I spoke with US President Trump on these issues. I discussed the same things with Putin two days ago. I told them: ‘We won’t take steps backward from here. We are on the side of the suffering and the oppressed,’” Erdogan said in an address at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul on Friday, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
The Turkish military, along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched “Operation Olive Branch” against Kurds in Afrin on January 20, and Erdogan vowed that operations “will not end in Afrin. Next are Idlib and Manbij”.
However, a senior US official said Washington “has no intention to leave Manbij,” despite Turkey’s words.
“US forces are located in Manbij. We have made it very clear with the Turkish government that we will continue to operate there,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a press conference in response to a question about Washington’s stance on Manbij.