Syria requested that the U.N. Security Council pressure Turkey to pull out its “invasion forces” from Manbij on Friday, a day after Ankara said it would attack any Syrian Kurdish YPG forces in their way.
Turkey supports “terrorism that killed tens of thousands” and has “destroyed part of the country's infrastructure,” wrote the Syrian Foreign and Expatriate Ministries in two letters.
The day before, Turkey shelled sites outside of Manbij affiliated with the Syrian Arab Army, killing and wounding several troops, according to Syrian state media. Turkey said it had “neutralized” 71 YPG fighters this week and occupies more than 2,000 square km in northern Syria.
"We will not allow the YPG's canton dreams (to come true). If we go to Manbij and the PYD is there, we will hit them," NTV cited Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying.
The YPG is the dominant party in a U.S.-backed alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, currently controlling Manbij. But it is unclear how large a presence the YPG has in Manbij. Turkey says the Kurdish militia maintains a presence in Manbij. The YPG denies this.
The U.S. military, cooperating with Syria and Russia, has deployed a small number of forces in and around Manbij as part of a new role to ensure the different parties in the area do not attack each other. The Manbij Military Council says the move followed Turkish threats to attack the city.
A spokesperson for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the YPG should move out of Manbij to the eastern side of the Euphrates river, which Turkey is broadly believed to see as the boundary of a safe zone it aims to create.
Cavusoglu gave no deadline for any withdrawal of the YPG militia, seen by Ankara as a hostile force allied to PKK Kurdish militants fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil. It considers their presence in Manbij a hindrance to its efforts to create a "safe zone" on Turkish borders.
The Russian-backed Syrian army has made a rapid advance against the Islamic State group to the south of the city, while the Turkish military and Syrian rebel groups it backs have been fighting a Manbij-based militia to the west of the city.
Fearing deepening Kurdish influence in northern Syria, Turkey has been pressing Washington for a role in the final assault on Raqqa. SDF spokesman Talal Silo said the SDF had ruled out that idea during a meeting with U.S. officials last month.
"The Turkish side is an occupation force and it cannot be allowed to occupy more Syrian land," he told Reuters. The meeting in northern Syria was attended by U.S. Senator John McCain and U.S. military officials, he said.