“We do have commitments from Kurdish leadership that the local Arabs liberating their own lands will be the ones to rebuild the area and restore local control when the terrorists are finally evicted,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said during a press briefing.
According to Trudeau, Arabs fighting for Manbij are locals who fought to take back their homes and described the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as “a critical component of the SDF.”
The PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK — considered as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU. The PYD is part of SDF that consists also of Arabs, Armenians, Assyrian, Circassian and Turkmens, who have been working since May to retake Manbij from Daesh.
Since operations began in Manbij, the U.S. has promised Turkey that the PYD would leave the area after the city’s liberation. Manbij lies west of the Euphrates River. Turkey wants the PYD to return to east of the Euphrates after Manbij’s liberation as the city is Daesh’s key lines of communication between the Turkish border and Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the militants.
According to Trudeau, Manbij’s liberation helped the U.S.-led coalition’s ongoing operations in Syria “to reduce the ISIL [Daesh] threat to Turkey.”
Turdeau added that this was decreased by the coalition’s support of “vetted Syrian opposition” forces fighting Daesh near the Mara line and along Turkey’s borders. She referred to the SDF, including the PYD.
The Maraa line refers to an area named by the coalition that lies between Maraa and Deir Rafat in Syria. It is located near the front lines of the battle against Daesh militants who seek to control the two cities before capturing Azaz, which would give the group control of the northern Aleppo countryside.
According to Trudeau, the liberation of Manbij would cut a key route that Daesh has used to move fighters, finances, weapons and supplies in and out of the remaining territory under Daesh’s control in Iraq and Syria.
She added that expelling Daesh from Manbij would also liberate 35,000 – 40,000 citizens from Daesh control.
Earlier Monday, the Pentagon said the U.S. was committed to conducting Manbij operations consistent with commitments made between the U.S. and Turkey.
US has commitment from PYD to leave Manbij: State Dept.