The region of Manbij in northeastern Syria is becoming a battleground for Turkish-led Syrian rebel fighters advancing within the area following the pullback of U.S. forces.
A Syrian National Army statement to The Defense Post stated the Turkish-led rebel fighters have been launching the operation “intending to liberate the city of Manbij and its vicinity” from the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Manbij area is home to U.S. outposts that have been set up in 2017 to patrol the frontiers between Turkish-controlled areas and the Kurdish-held side of northern Syria, as news channel reported.
A U.S. official stated troops are still within the city, preparing to depart.
The U.S. has had around 1,000 troops in northeastern Syria allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to combat the Islamic State, as The Associated Press reported. The Pentagon previously had removed about 30 of these troops from the Turkish attack zone beside the border. With the growth of violence, a widening of the Turkish incursion, and the prospect of a deepening conflict, all U.S. forces along the border now will follow that move. It was unclear where they will go.
The Kurds have turned to the Syrian government and Russia for military help, additional complicating the battlefield.
The Syrian troops entered the Kurdish-held city of Manbij, in a race with Turkey-backed opposition fighters advancing in the same direction.
Earlier, Syrian fighters backed by Turkey stated they started an offensive beside Turkish troops to capture Manbij.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled earlier the day his military was prepared to start the assault on Manbij, to return the city to Arab populations that he stated had been its rightful owners, as The Associated Press reported.