Erdogan says PYD not retreating to east of Euphrates
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the PYD forces had not retreated to east of the Euphrates River River in northern Syria despite claims by the US that the group is withdrawing, Daily Sabah reported.
Speaking to a news conference on Friday that the reports that PYD has retreated the east of the Euphrates River were not true and added that such development must be confirmed by the Turkish intelligence first.
The president also said the Turkish-backed operation to cleanse north Syria of terrorists was going successfully and a 400 sq km area had been cleared of Daesh and YPG terrorists.
He also said Turkey had repeatedly proposed the establishment of a "safe zone" in Syria as a solution but said the idea had not received the backing of other world powers.
"Operation Euphrates Shield's aim is to remove the threat imposed by terror groups at our border. We cannot turn a blind eye to the rocket attacks fired from bordering towns in north Syria into Turkish soil," Erdogan said.
Erdogan added that Turkey's operation into Jarablus was not an incursion and it was conducted to resettle local Arab population back into their town.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon insisted PKK's Syria affiliates are withdrawing west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.
"The people we are working with the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]-the SDF is comprised with a lot of Kurds but other elements too-have lived up their promise," Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said.
According to Davis, the withdrawals have been taking place for about three days but local reports and some Turkish officials say the PKK's affiliate, PYD, and its military wing, YPG, in and around Manbij continue to hold villages west of the Euphrates.
The PYD/PKK has long said it would not cross the river to the east and leave the areas captured from the Daesh terror group to the local predominantly Arab population.
The PYD/PKK is trying to combine its self-declared Afrin canton in the northwest corner of Syria to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast but Turkey and Syrian opposition groups fighting for the unity of Syria have been trying to prevent PKK affiliates' separatist motivations.
Daesh originally controlled 98 kilometers of territory along the Turkish border.
Ankara has warned that Turkish Armed Forces would address the threat posed by PKK affiliates in northern Syria as well but Washington wants Ankara to center its focus on Daesh.