Speaking today on television, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that Turkey-backed rebels have seized a number of towns near the city of Manbij in northern Syria, and that the offensive is continuing to advance toward Manbij itself.
Erdogan did not offer specifics on the towns taken, and while Syiian forces reportedly came under fire by Turkish artillery last week, there have been no subsequent reports of Syria actually losing any of the territory it was gifted by the YPG, a string of villages which surrounds Manbij.
Erdogan has long insisted Manbij would be Turkey’s next target, and that Kurds must not be allowed west of the Euphrates River. The US has complained that Turkey does not face any threat from having Kurds in Manbij, and has deployed a number of Army Rangers into Manbij themselves to try to deter a Turkish attack.
US, Syrian, and Russian forces have all deployed in or around Manbij in recent days trying to dissuade Turkey from continuing the push, but Erdogan is giving the impression that the city continues to be his invasion force’s next target, irrespective of the obviously huge consequences of crossing the US and Russia in doing so.