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At the weekly press briefing held yesterday evening at Turkey local time (March 19), the Spokesperson for the US Department of Defense Colonel Robert Manning stated that the US forces will not withdraw from Manbij.
In his response to the question regarding whether the US-led coalition will protect the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in case of an attack by Turkey against Manbij, the Spokesperson answered that "the US presence there has been made very clear."
Manning said, "We have made that very clear that US forces are in Manbij, and again, this goes back to the need to focus on the defeat of ISIS. It has been very clear to all parties that US forces are there, and we will take measures to make sure that we de-conflict."
"We are deeply concerned about Afrin"
In a written statement issued by the US Department of State, it was also declared that "the US called on Turkey, Russia, the Syrian government and other actors in northwest Syria to allow access for humanitarian aid." Stating that there are no operations carried out by the US in Afrin, the Department expressed their "deep concern" about the developments that have unfolded in the city in the last 48 hours.
Kalın: We have reached a general agreement
The Spokesperson for Presidency İbrahim Kalın gave an interview to Al Jazeera English channel and commented on the latest developments in Afrin as well as the negotiations with the US.
About the the withdrawal of the US from Manbij and a possible operation in the city, Kalın said, "We have reached a general agreement. We are now waiting for this agreement to be put into effect. If it is put into effect, we will not face off against the US."
"The real owners of Afrin" question
Stating that Afrin city center has been completely brought under control, Kalın said that the city will be handed over to their real owners. In response to the Al Jazeera correspondent's question, "Whom exactly do you mean by the real owners of Afrin?", Kalın answered, "As we did last year in Jarablus, we will hand over the city to the local people. A large number of people residing at camps in Turkey have already returned to Syria and Jarablus." (PT/SD)
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