Manbij Military Council denies handing over areas to Assad

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Kurdish commander Shervan Darwish (C) speaking to a press conference in Manbij countryside. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

The Manbij Military Council (MMC) on Sunday denied handing over areas to the Syrian government after increased tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Sinjar.

“Following our statement in relation to the border line between our forces and the Euphrates Shield, some press and broadcasting institutions do not reflect the reality and are making distorted claims,” said the council, which is affiliated to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“As the Manbij Military Council, we have already pointed out that the defense duty of Manbij city and its surroundings is carried out by our troops and international coalition forces. We do not allow any passage of forces into the area,” the council said in a reference to Syrian government forces.

The city of Manbij was liberated from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on 12 August 2016, with support of the US-led coalition forces.

“Manbij was rescued from the Daesh [ISIS] gangs by our forces and international coalition forces, and we are carrying out the defense of Manbij as the same forces. We promise our people that we will defend them and make their lives safe,” the council added.

“The agreement made between Russia and us, the Manbij Military Council, only comprises of the border line of the Arima region and Euphrates Shield,” said the General Command of Manbij Military Council. 

The denial comes after senior assistant to President Masoud Barzani, Hemin Hawrami, on Friday accused the PKK of handing over areas to the Syrian government following clashes between the KDP-backed Rojava Peshmerga, and the PKK-backed Sinjar Resistance Units last Friday, in which at least 7 PKK-affiliated fighters were killed.

“Question to PKK, You officially handed over west of Minbij to Syria regime army, if PKK is not seeking problem why they are not leaving Sinjar?” he said.

On 3 March, the Manbij Military Council said they handed over defense lines to the Syrian government.

“In order to realize these goals of ours, we as Manbij Military Council state that we have handed over the defense of the line – where villages between the positions of our forces in western Manbij and Turkish-affiliated gangs are located – to Syrian state forces as part of the alliance we have made with Russian officials,” the council said.

On Friday, Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, said that Syrian army detachments approach southwestern Manbij.

“The detachments of the Syrian army approached the south-west areas of the city of Manbij, which is under control of Kurdish militia groups,” he said.

Moreover, he confirmed Russian aid convoys entered Manbij, which was proven by pictures spread on social media.

“Today, the Russian Centre for reconciliation of the opposing sides sent the first humanitarian convoy with food, medicines and items of the first necessity to Manbij,” he added.

However, the Russian general said Syrian armed forces did enter territory of the MMC.

“In addition, since March 3 the Syrian Armed Forces enter the territory occupied by Kurdish militia groups [in reference to SDF] according to the agreements reached with the participation of the command of the Russian grouping of forces in Syria,” General Sergei Rudskoy said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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