Such areas are on the frontline with Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebels, who were closing in to dislodge the Kurdish-backed rebels out of Manbij. (AFP photo)
DAMASCUS, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Kurdish-backed Manbij Military Council (MMC) said Thursday it has concluded a deal with Russia to hand over areas in northern Syria to the Syrian government forces.
In a statement, the MMC said it will give control of areas near the city of Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo in northern Syria to the government forces.
Such areas are on the frontline with Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebels, who were closing in to dislodge the Kurdish-backed rebels out of Manbij.
This way, the army forces will be separating the Turkish-backed rebels from the Kurdish-led ones.
The separation aims at sparing the civilians the woes of confrontation between both rebel groups, and to maintain peace and security in the city of Manbij and its countryside.
It also aims at cutting the road in front of the Turkish attempts to capture more Syrian territories, according to the statement.
This comes as the Syrian army has advanced against the Islamic State (IS) group in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, reaching the outskirts of Manbij.
It coincided with progress made by the Turkish forces and allied rebel fighters against IS in the city of al-Bab in the countryside of Aleppo.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that six Turkish-backed rebels were killed a day earlier during battles with the Kurdish-led ones west of Manbij.
For his side, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated previous pledges that his forces will capture Manbij, following taking al-Bab, which was the largest IS stronghold in northern Syria, near the Turkish borders.
He said during a press conference on Thursday that if the Kurdish groups didn't withdraw from Manbij, "we will shell them."
He noted that his country has an agreement with Russia that the Turkish-led forces will not advance south of al-Bab, where the Syrian army has reached recently.
Still, it's not known how the Turkish-led groups will deal with the new agreement between the MMC and Russia.
Kurdish activists said Thursday that the Turkish forces shelled the village of Olashili west of Manbij, leaving property losses.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is backing the MMC and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said Thursday that the YPG hasn't sent reinforcements to Manbij, adding that the MMC hasn't requested for backup yet.
As part of the growing Kurdish-Turkish tension, the SDF said the Turkish-backed rebels pounded SDF-controlled areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo with mortar shells on Thursday.
Tension is growing in northern Syria between the Kurdish-supported groups and the Turkish ones, as part of Ankara's determination to curb the influence of the Kurds in northern Syria, near the Turkish borders.
On the other side, the Syrian army, which has been critic and repeatedly condemned the Turkish operations in northern Syria, is apparently coordinating with the Kurds.
Reports said that the Syrian army will open a road between Manbij and Aleppo, to facilitate trade movements between Aleppo and the northeastern part of Syria, which has for long been isolated due to the presence of IS groups.