Syrian regime troops are in full control over Manbij after striking a military deal with the Syrian Democratic Forces to counter Turkey-backed forces in the northeast.
“The Syrian government army has established full control over the city of Manbij and nearby inhabited communities,” Russian state news agency Tass reported the defense ministry as saying on Tuesday, October 15.
Syrian troops entered the city late Monday after Turkey-backed Syrian rebels fighting under the banner of the Syrian National Army announced an attack on Manbij and the surrounding area.
A deal between the SDF, regime and Russia intends for government and Russian troops to occupy key cities in Syria’s northeast in a bid to thwart the rebel advance.
Turkey announced the start of operations against the SDF on October 9, two days after President Donald Trump said he would pull U.S. troops from the Syria-Turkey border where they had been acting as a deterrent to a potential invasion. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that all 1,000 American forces would be withdrawn from northeast Syria, leaving about 150 at the southern al-Tanf base.
CJTF-OIR spokesperson Colonel Myles B. Caggins tweeted on Tuesday that Coalition forces were “out of Manbij.” Earlier in the day, a Russian journalist posted a video of himself purportedly inside the deserted U.S. base.
Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. We are out of Manbij. // تقوم قوات التحالف بتنفيذ إنسحاب مدروس من شمال شرق سوريا. لقد غادرنا منبج
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) October 15, 2019
Ankara considers the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces and its predominately-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be an extension of the Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK) that has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
The SDF captured Manbij from Islamic State in 2016 after a 75-day battle later named “Operation Martyr and Commander Faysal Abu Layla” after the SDF commander.