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Turkey Signals Imminent Assault on Manbij, Welcomes US Pullout

Turkey Signals Imminent Assault on Manbij, Welcomes US Pullout

Monday, 14 October, 2019 - 08:45
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint press conference with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic after their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Djordje Kojadinovic

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that Turkish troops and their Syrian opposition allies are ready to launch an assault on the Syrian-Kurdish held city of Manbij.

"We are about to implement our decision on Manbij,” Erdogan told reporters on Monday.

He said Turkey's aim would be to return the city to Arab populations whom he said were its rightful owners.

Earlier, Turkish television reports said Turkey's forces were preparing for an operation on Manbij and were positioned at the city's edge.

Syria's Kurds have struck a deal with Syrian regime forces to fend off the Turkish invasion, as their former ally, the US has ordered a withdrawal from the northern border zone.

Erdogan welcomed the announcement a day earlier by Washington that it was pulling out 1,000 troops.

"This is a positive approach," Erdogan told reporters, when asked about the statement from US Pentagon chief Mark Esper.

Turkey is in the sixth day of its offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria and has seized control of two key towns, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain.

The Turkish president also welcomed Russia's "positive approach", saying Moscow did not appear to be putting any obstacles in the way of its offensive on another key town, Kobani.

"There is a lot of gossip now, but it seems... there won't be any problem in Kobani with Russia's positive approach as of now," Erdogan said.

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