U.S. patrols still locate in Syria's Manbij: monitor

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-29 20:26:01|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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DAMASCUS, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. patrols still locate in the northern Syrian city of Manbij as the Syrian government forces are deployed on the frontline between the Kurdish-led groups and the Turkey-backed rebels, a war monitor reported on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Turkey-backed rebels are still preparing for launching a campaign against the Kurdish-led militia in Manbij, but waiting for the results of the Saturday talks between Russia and Turkey in Moscow.

It claimed the Syrian forces haven't yet entered inside the city of Manbij, which is run by the Kurdish-backed Manbij Military Council (MMC).

A day earlier, the Syrian army said in a statement that it had entered Manbij and raised the Syrian flag in it upon the request of the residents there.

The army's statement came an hour after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) urged the Syrian army to enter Manbij and claim the positions left by the YPG, which left the area to avert a Turkey-backed campaign.

The UK-based watchdog group said the Russians are negotiating with the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) about Manbij and the Kurdish-controlled areas in the eastern Euphrates region in light of the decision of U.S. forces to withdraw from Syria within 100 days.

The Observatory said the Russians will have a say about who will be filling into the place of the U.S. forces.

Earlier this year, the Kurdish militia lost the northern enclave of Afrin to the Turkish forces after they rejected the entry of the Syrian government forces to assume control of Afrin.

The Kurdish militia seems to have learned from that lesson, which explains their decision to hand over Manbij to the Syrian army this time.

Manbij is believed to be the first area the Turkish forces are planning to storm in their quest to dislodge the Kurdish militia out of that area and the eastern Euphrates River region.

The YPG has withdrawn but the MMC is still in that area.

The U.S. agreed with Turkey to run joint patrols between Manbij and its countryside, which is controlled by the Turkish-backed groups.

Ankara has urged the U.S. to push the YPG to withdraw from Manbij and later the YPG said it had withdrawn from parts of it, a claim which didn't seem to have resonated with Turkey.

Turkey deems the YPG and the allied SDF and other Kurdish-led groups to be terrorists and separatists due to their link with the Turkey-banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).