Turkey accuses US of failing to abide by deal on Syrian town
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s president in remarks published Friday accused the United States of failing to abide by a deal for a U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia to withdraw from a town it had liberated from Islamic State militants in northern Syria.
Washington and Ankara struck the deal in June to defuse tensions. It calls for the militia to leave the strategic town of Manbij and for joint Turkish-U.S. patrols there.
Ankara considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG militia a terror group that’s part of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the U.S. hasn’t honored the agreed-on “roadmap” for Manbij. His comments were published in Hurriyet newspaper.
“America has not kept up with the roadmap and schedule for Manbij,” Erdogan said. “The (YPG) has not left the region.”
In the nearby province of Idlib, thousands of pro-Turkey protesters marched in the streets of towns and villages calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad’s government.
Syrian opposition activists said al-Qaida-linked fighters prevented demonstrators from entering a key northwestern town controlled by extremists.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said members of al-Qaida-linked Horas al-Din, Arabic for Guardians of Religion, and other militants prevented the protesters from entering Jisr al-Shughour that has been held by jihadis since 2015.
A Syria-based activist said armed insurgents waving black banners marched toward the protesters and forced them to leave.
The activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the militants consider the pro-democracy protesters heretics.
Thousands of people have marched every Friday in recent weeks against a government offensive on Idlib province.
The attack on Idlib was averted last week in a deal reached between Russia and Turkey to set up a demilitarized zone along the western, southern and eastern edges of the province.
Russia is a main backer of Assad while Turkey supports rebels that want him out of power.
Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report from Beirut.