MANBIJ, Syrian Kurdistan,— In Syria’s Kurdish-controlled Manbij, salesmen shout as customers bustle through the city’s packed marketplace — an everyday scene that masks residents’ deep fears of a Turkish attack.
Despite the presence of US troops nearby, Manbij could become the next target of a Turkey-led battle against Kurdish militia in Syria’s north.
Turkey and Ankara-backed Syrian militants, considered as mercenary fighters for Turkey, seized the northwestern Kurdish city of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) on March 18, 2018, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to push eastwards and take Manbij.
“Everybody’s scared, me included,” said Hameed al-Damalkhi, 50, bent over a sewing machine as he stitched the sole back onto a used trainer at his shop in Manbij’s covered market.
He said he was still shocked by images of pro-Ankara Arab fighters looting in Afrin, breaking into shops and homes and heading off with food, blankets and even motorbikes after Kurdish fighters retreated.
“What we hear about them is they’re all thieves. You saw, they looted the whole (Afrin) area,” he said, wearing a stained grey robe and greying beard.
Turkey has said it aims to dislodge the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which it labels a “terrorist” group, from the length of its border with Syria.
“Where does he think he’s going?” Damalkhi said, referring to Erdogan. “There are men here who can protect the area.”
The YPG has gained a reputation as a formidable force, especially as the backbone of a US-backed alliance that expelled the Islamic State group from much of Syria.
U.S. regards the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, as key ally against Islamic State IS and the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has provided them with arms, air support as well as the military advisers.
source: Kurd Net – Ekurd.net Daily News