Last weekend, the Kurdish YPG attempted to preempt an attempted Turkish invasion of Manbij by handing over a ring of villages around the outskirts of the city to the Syrian military, who positioned troops there. The gamble was that Turkey wouldn’t directly attack the Syrian military to try to get at the Kurds.
Which appears to have been untrue, as Syrian military officials reported heavy shelling from Turkish military forces nearby, killing at least eight Syrian troops and wounded 10 others across several villages in the area. Though Russian forces deployed with the Syrians in some villages, there was no sign they were directly involved in the firing.
While Turkish officials didn’t directly address attacking the Syrian troops in violation of their ceasefire, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested that Turkey’s goal continues to be attacking the city of Manbij, insisting Turkey will hit the YPG if they don’t withdraw entirely.
In addition to Syrian and Russian troops on the outskirts of Manbij, the Kurdish YPG also has a number of US troops deployed inside Manbij with them, aiming to deter Turkish attacks. The indications are this isn’t working, but it’s still not clear Turkey would directly attack targets with US forces present.
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