Syrian Troops Take Positions West of Manbij After Handover by US-Backed Kurds

Syrian Troops Form a Barrier Between Turkish Forces, Kurds

by Jason Ditz, March 06, 2017

A deal negotiated by Russia last week in Manbij went into effect today, and saw the Syrian military taking over a series of military positions west of the city of Manbij, handed over to them by Kurdish forces from the YPG’s Manbij Military Council.

Turkey had said they intended to invade Manbij next, and the deal saw Syrian military forces setting up a ring around the western side of the city, with the villages’ handover. Turkey and the Syrian military are in a state of ceasefire, which seemingly precludes Turkey trying to advance.

Turkish officials have long insisted the Kurds must not be allowed west of the Euphrates, and Manbij is on the west bank of the river, leading them to demand the YPG unconditionally hand the city over. The Obama Administration had previously been said to have promised such a handover, though it never happened.

Now, Syrian troops are in the way, Russian troops are in the way, and even some US troops are in Manbij itself, so Turkey’s hope of taking over the city seems pretty remote indeed for the time being. Where that leaves Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria remains to be seen, but they might ultimately cross the Euphrates eastward to try to hit other Kurdish towns.

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