US Has Established Two New Bases in Manbij - Reports
The US has reportedly beefed up its military presence in the Manbij region in northern Syria which is facing the threat of a Turkish offensive. It was also reported that US military personnel has started patrolling the area between the Kurdish-held territories and those controlled by the Euphrates Shield forces on a daily basis.
The US military has reportedly established two bases in the Manbij region, Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria, held by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Anadolu Agency reported Tuesday, referring to "trustworthy local sources" in the city.
"[One] base will be located eight kilometers (4.9 miles) from Sajur River, which forms the frontline between Jarabulus, the Euphrates Shield area, and Manbij," the media outlet specified, adding that "the other base is being built four km (2.4 mi) from the frontline, south of Dadat."
According to the media source, on April 1, about 300 US soldiers arrived in the city with a convoy comprising a considerable number of armored vehicles and construction machines.
It further specified that the additional US personnel have started patrolling the Sajur River area on a daily basis, adding that previously the patrols were conducted weekly.
Currently, the US-backed forces are stationed in a "Nuaymiyah" farm, engaged in construction work, the media outlet noted, stressing that once completed, the installation will become "the closest US base to the Euphrates Shield forces."
Turkey is seeking to take over the Kurdish-held Manbij as part of Operation Olive Branch, which kicked off on January 20, 2018.
Ankara and the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition forces have pledged to clear the Kurds from strategic regions along the Syria-Turkey border citing security concerns. The Turks regard the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) – the backbone of the SDF – as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey.
On March 24 the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces announced that Ankara had managed to establish full control over the Kurdish-dominated city of Afrin
. As the Turkish leadership repeatedly stated, Manbij is Ankara's second most important target.
The Kurdish dominated regions in northern Syria remain the bone of contention between Ankara and Washington, which views the Kurdish-dominated SDF as its major ground forces in Syria.
Earlier Turkey has repeatedly accused the US of failing to deliver on its promise to withdraw the Kurdish self-defense units from Manbij after the formations had liberated the city from the Daesh (ISIS/ISIL)* terrorist group in June 2016.
Meanwhile, on March 29, during an official meeting with an SDF delegation, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to send troops to Manbij in order to support the SDF resistance in the face of the potential Turkish advance. He also proposed mediating between the SDF and Ankara.
In response, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli called upon Paris "not to take such a reckless step."
"In other words, if France tries to deploy their troops in northern Syria, it will violate international law. The activities of France could be considered as an attempt to occupy the Syrian territories," Canikli warned.
Referring to Macron's meeting with representatives of the Kurdish militia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that "hosting, at the most senior level, members of a terrorist organization… is nothing short of hostility towards Turkey." He added that Ankara would never sit at the negotiating table with "terrorists."
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.
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