Turkey’s capture of the ISIS city of al-Bab last week set in motion a race for the city of Manbij, which Kurdish forces captured from ISIS last year, and which Turkish officials had long insisted would be their next target after al-Bab.
Several nations have interests in not seeing Turkey attack the Kurds, but on Monday, US troops were the first to the scene, with a deployment inside the city of Manbij, where they will embed with Kurdish forces as a “sign of deterrence.”
By the end of Monday, Syrian and Russian troops were also in the vicinity, with the Kurds having brokered a deal to give Syrian forces all the villages ringing Manbij, which would mean Turkey can’t advance with attacking Syrian government villages. Russia sent some forces into the area too to back Syria’s new claims.
Turkish officials are expressing annoyance about everyone deciding to ally with the Kurds against ISIS, but as a practical matter they are probably not going to be able to secure an attempt at capturing Manbij any time soon with so many other nations’ forces in the area. This does, however, put the US in an uncomfortable position of having its troops backing a local militia force against a would-be invasion by a NATO member nation.