Back in August, Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria focused a lot on seizing ISIS territory along the border. At this point, all the easily claimable ISIS cities are gone, and Turkey’s forces are increasingly bumping up against the forces of the Syrian government.
In al-Bab, Turkish forces took the city, but Syrian troops took the immediate south, effectively cutting off any deeper Turksih advances. Clashes between Turkey-backed rebels erupted, but eventually both started moving eastward, toward the important, Kurdish-held city of Manbij.
Today, Syria appears to have cut a deal with the Kurdish YPG and the Manbij Military Council to cut Turkey off at the pass, with Russia brokering an agreement in which some of the villages ringing Manbij will be handed over to the Syrian government’s control.
The deal aims to allow the Syrian military to ring the Kurdish-held city, which would prevent Turkey from directly invading Manbij, something they’ve long threatened to do. It remains to be seen how Turkey will respond to this deal, as they are party to a ceasefire with the Syrian government and other factions, but would have a much longer trek to find new Kurdish or ISIS targets to attack.