Turkey Signal Intention to Attack Syrian City of Manbij

Syrian Army has troops deployed to defend key city

When they invaded northern Syria last week, Turkey indicated that their intention was to capture the 30 km band at the border as a “safe zone.” Though they are far from controlling all that territory, they are already signaling their intentions to go farther.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that troops will be moving against the city of Manbij and will “settle Arabs there” under terms of a deal previously reached with the US on expelling the Kurds from the city, which the US never did. Turkey-backed rebels have confirmed they’ve already launched an offensive against the city.

Turkey has long insisted the Kurds must be expelled from Manbij, an Arab majority city. Though the northernmost part of the city lies within 30 km of the border, much of the city would represent Turkey going beyond their previously defined goals.

The big complication is not a 30+ km offensive to Manbij, however. Under a weekend deal, the Kurds already ceded the defense of Manbij to the Syrian government, and Syrian Army forces are in Manbij preparing to defend it.

Far from attacking Kurdish paramilitaries, something the Turkish Army does as a matter of course, and often on very little pretext, invading Manbij now means attacking the Syrian Army inside a Syrian city, potentially a fight with much broader implications.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.