Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers in the capital Ankara, Yildirim said that he hoped the U.S. will abide by its pledge that the PYD terrorist organization will leave the Arab town.

"We had an agreement with the U.S. from the beginning that PYD elements would withdraw from Manbij. They express at each meeting that they will keep their word on the agreement and do what’s needed," he said.

"We’re still waiting for that word to come true. They will withdraw one way or another."

The tension between Turkey and the U.S. has persisted for months regarding when all elements affiliated with the PKK terror group will leave Manbij – located on the western bank of the Euphrates River – and cross back to the eastern bank after they help local Arab forces liberate the town from Daesh. The Pentagon had previously said that the fighters had already left the city.

Despite Ankara’s insistence that the U.S. keep its promise to leave the predominantly Arab town to locals, President Barack Obama’s special envoy supervising the fight against Daesh, Brett McGurk, tweeted that PYD/YPG fighters will leave after the training of local forces is complete.

According to Turkey, PKK affiliates in Syria, namely the PYD and its military wing the YPG, are fueling separatist sentiments in northern Syria by creating cantons along the Turkish border.

The PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD are both listed as terrorist groups by Turkey, although the U.S. and EU only view the PKK as a terrorist organization. 

Mine collapse

Speaking also on the copper mine collapse that caused several deaths in the southeastern province of Siirt, Yildirim said that the collapse was caused by a landslide triggered by heavy rains.

"Landslides are still continuing. Three miners died in the accident, and rescue teams are working to reach 12 miners trapped underground," Yildirim said.

Labor Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said earlier that four miners lost their lives, while rescue work remains ongoing for 12 people at Madenkoy in the Sirvan district.

In a statement, the Siirt Governor’s Office said search and rescue teams from nearby cities had been asked to join the search.

The mine’s private operator, Park Elektrik, had said in a statement that due to a risk of further landslides, production had been “interrupted”.

A crisis management center has been established by the governor’s office and an investigation has been launched.

According to Park Elektrik’s website, the company, which is a member of the Ciner Group, has operated the mine since 2006. An estimated 41.5 million tons of copper ore are at the site.

Anadolu Agency