A spokesman for the Syrian Nation Army (SNA) denied that the attack on the northern city of Manbij has begun and said that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) reinforcements, which were deployed near the city a day earlier, are only a part of the ongoing preparations for the upcoming battle.
“These movements have led some [Turkish-backed] commanders into believing that the battle has begun. However, these movements were meant to test and reinforce the frontlines,” Yousef Hammoud told the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi on December 26.
Hammoud went on and denied that there are any negotiations with the Syrian Demcoratic Forces (SDF) on Manbij. The spokesman said that they don’t negotiate with “terrorist-designated groups.”
A day earlier, a pro-Turkish militant group, Jabhat al-Aisalat wal-Tanmia, declared the “start” of military operation against Kurdish armed groups in Manbij. The announcement coincided with the deployment of several units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Russian Military Police in village of Arima west of the city.
The fate of the strategic city appears to be swinging between a Turkish-led invasion and a possible deal between the SDF and the Damascus government. As for now, U.S. forces are still present in the city and around it.