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Pentagon Sees No Indication of Turkey's Plans to Expand Olive Branch to Manbij

© AFP 2023 / DELIL SOULEIMANMembers of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) patrol a street in the northern Syrian town of Manbij (File)
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) patrol a street in the northern Syrian town of Manbij (File) - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Pentagon has seen no indication of Turkey planning to move to the Syrian city of Manbij, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs Mark Swayne said at a Washington, DC think tank on Monday.

"I think that our cooperation and military-to-military communications with our NATO ally is excellent, and I don’t expect that will change at all," Swayne said. "So, our military-to-military cooperation will continue. I have no indication that they are going to move into Manbij."

This declaration, however, contradicts the announcement of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he made on on January 25, saying that Ankara might extend its Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin to Manbij and further east up to the Iraqi border in pursuit of ensuring the security of its southern borders.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Turkey Will Clean Its Entire Border With Syria From Terrorists

Just before launching the Afrin offensive, the Turkish president indicated that the operation could also cover the Syrian district of Manbij, controlled by Kurdish organizations such as the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People's Protection Units (YPG), which are recognized by Ankara as terrorist groups.

Olive Branch

Turkey started a military offensive in the Afrin region, dubbed Olive Branch days after the US announcement of its plans to build a 30,000-strong Kurdish force from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting Daesh in the region. According to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, the only aim of Ankara in Afrin is to eliminate terrorists from the area.    

However, the announced was later refuted by the US side and called 'misunderstanding'.

READ MORE: US 'Engaged' With Turkey on Operation in Syria's Afrin - Tillerson

US Humanitarian Mission

Turkey’s military operation in the Afrin district in Syria has not impacted humanitarian assistance efforts by the US Defense Department in the country's northeast, Mark Swayne told Sputnik.

When asked whether Turkey’s military operation in the Afrin district has had any impact on the US Defense Department’s humanitarian efforts in Syria's northeast, Swayne said, "No."

"Our operation as far as humanitarian assistance in northeast Syria is continuing," Swayne said.

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