Şervan Derwîş: Turkey wants to expand its occupied territories beginning from Manbij - PART TWO

Şervan Derwîş, spokesman for the region's Military Council, says that "starting from Manbij, the Turkish state wants to expand its occupied territories."

Şervan Derwîş, spokesman for the region's Military Council, says that the Turkish state continues to seek to occupy the self-governing regions of northern and eastern Syria.

Part One of this interview can be read here

What do you think about Erdoğan's comments on 1 June when he threatened to occupy Manbij and Tel Rifat?

Since the beginning of our operation to liberate Manbij, the Turkish state has been threatening to occupy the city. In fact, in a sense, Turkey wants to avenge ISIS, invade the city and create a new territory for the terrorist group to organize freely. We take this threat seriously. Everyone should know that the Turkish state continues to seek to occupy the self-governing regions of northern and eastern Syria. It aims at occupying not only Manbij and Tel Rifat, but all regions that fall within the scope of the Ottoman National Pact (Misak-i-Milli) borders. Wherever there is an opportunity, it will launch an invasion attack.

Recently, the Turkish state has been threatening Manbij and Tel Rifat in particular. We take this threat seriously. In this regard, we have stepped up our preparations and further strengthened our defense system. The peoples and tribes in Manbij, the Arabs, Kurds, Circassians and Turkmens know exactly what the Turkish state is up to. In Manbij there is unity and solidarity at the highest level. People are protesting the threat of invasion and supporting the city's defense forces.

Why is the Turkish state so interested in Manbij?

Erdoğan's goal is not just Manbij. But Manbij has a special and strategic location in the self-governing regions of Northern and Eastern Syria. The city has strategic importance both for its location and for its size, as there are more than one million people living here. The M4 expressway runs through Manbij. The city is close to Aleppo and the Qereqozax Bridge, which connects the east and west of the Euphrates. Qereqozax is actually directly connected to Manbij.

Manbij is of great importance both militarily and as a commercial center. That's why all eyes are on Manbij. With the occupation of Manbij, the Turkish state wants to put pressure on Aleppo and the cities in north east Syria. Starting from Manbij, the Turkish state wants to expand its occupied territories. The Turkish government says the international powers involved in the Syrian crisis are most likely to agree to an occupation of Manbij. At the moment, it is trying to use the current economic situation, the global crisis and the contradictions between the international powers to get approval for the occupation of self-governing territories. But so far it seems that the Turkish state has not been able to achieve the desired result.

Are there already preparations for an invasion on the Turkish side?

We observe the movements of the Turkish state and its mercenaries on our borders. There are movements in places and reconnaissance aircraft over the front again and again. The Turkish army is shelling all our villages along the borders. From time to time, there are attempts to infiltrate the region. Only recently has the enemy tried to enter our region with infiltration units. They wanted to attack our positions. But these attempts were thwarted by militants from the Manbij Military Council. There aren't too many movements on the ground. We're watching them closely.

However, we can say that the Turkish state and its mercenaries very slowly and secretly are preparing for an attack. They want to mislead our forces, but their movements are under our observation. Their preparations have not yet reached the level for a major attack.

In addition, the Turkish state is waging intense propaganda and psychological warfare against our territories through the media. We also observe that not all movements in the occupied territories are aimed at attacking our regions. There are also fights and conflicts between the mercenaries themselves.

There are also Russian troops in your region. How do they react to the threat?

Since the international coalition left our region, the Russian armed forces have been present as observers. We are exchanging information with them. All data on attacks and activities taking place at the front are also shared with the Russian Armed Forces. In line with the agreement between the SDF and Russia, there are also Syrian regime soldiers and positions on the front line.

Information is shared daily with the Russian and Syrian troops about what kind of attacks and movements are taking place. They don’t do much to stop ceasefire and deescalation violations and mercenary attacks, but there is some cooperation. They are expanding their positions along the border. However, their attitude and preparations are not at a level to stop a possible invading attack by the Turkish state.

We hope that in the coming period Russia will take a stand against the Turkish state's threats of war and attacks. Since 2019, there has been an agreement between the SDF and Russia to guarantee the security of the region, but the Turkish state and its mercenaries are still attacking our villages on a daily basis. Our population faces serious difficulties, but they are not willing to leave their homes. If Russia and the regime really wanted to protect Syrian territory and Syria's integrity, they would have to do their duty and defend Manbij. The government in Damascus in particular should demonstrate locally that it is against a Turkish invasion. We are engaged

in a dialogue on this point. However, neither the regime nor Russia have taken any concrete steps so far.

We say very clearly that if there is an attack on our city, our people, together with the Military Council, will defend Manbij. Such an attack would deepen the Syrian crisis and make the path to a solution even more difficult. Another invasion would also exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the region. ISIS would benefit most from an attack by the Turkish state. The Islamic State is already waiting for a war and the destabilization of the region to gather its strength and reorganize.

It is well known that ISIS is drawing its strength from the Turkish state and is reorganizing itself in the areas occupied by Turkey. If there is more war and instability in the region, ISIS will take advantage of the situation and reappear. In that case, all the work and fight against ISIS that has been carried out in recent years will have been in vain.

In the event of another invasion, the fight against ISIS will be pushed back. Because then we will have to protect our country from attacks and our people from the violence of the Turkish state.

How will the Military Council respond to a possible Turkish invasion?

We, the Manbij Military Council, have strengthened our forces over the past six years. We have educated ourselves in discipline, fighting ability, patriotic awareness, and improved our defense system. In the past six years, since the liberation of Manbij, we have worked continuously and made significant developments. Our commitment goes further in this sense.

Even if we don't want war, if our country and our people are attacked, we will develop a high-level defensive war and massive resistance. In this respect, too, we have gained significant experience. In the event of a possible invasion, the Turkish state can expect great resistance. They will suffer a severe blow.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people for supporting us. We want to keep that trust and we want the people to unite even more around the Defense Forces. The violence implemented by the Turkish state against the population and all its components, be they Kurds, Arabs or others, is evident.

We want to tell our people that in the event of a Turkish attack, we will offer our utmost resistance. This resistance will defend life and the system created with great sacrifice and effort. We are preparing together with the population. We are convinced that our people will continue to build this resistance shoulder to shoulder with us.