Erdogan calls on terrorists to leave Syria's Manbij

By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called on PYD/YPG terrorists to leave Syria's northwestern Manbij “as soon as possible.”

"Our goal is the exit of terror groups PYD/YPG from Manbij as soon as possible," Erdogan said at a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Istanbul.

The joint press conference comes after the 7th meeting of Ukraine –Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

Erdogan says he will also meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on sidelines of international meeting due to be held in Paris on Nov. 10-11.

On Friday, Turkish National Defense Ministry shared a footage of the first round of the Turkey-U.S. joint patrols in Manbij that was conducted as part of the deal between the two countries.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is in the northeast of Syria's Aleppo province.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including those of women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

-Turkey-Ukraine ties

Regarding Turkish-Ukrainian relations, Erdogan pointed out that the number of tourists coming from Ukraine to Turkey has surpassed one million in 2018.

"We will continue to strengthen our relations with Ukraine," Erdogan said.

He said Turkey wishes early resolution of conflict in eastern Ukraine through “diplomatic and peaceful means.”

Turkey has never recognized illegal annexation of Crimea and it will never do in the future, Turkish president added.

In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum, which drew the ire of the international community as Russian soldiers occupied the region during the voting process.

For his part, Poroshenko said the leaders of the two countries have given necessary instructions for signing Free Trade Agreement “as soon as possible.”