On December 14, 80 fighters of the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield (ES) forces defected and joined the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the city of Manbij in the northern Aleppo countryside, according to the Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA).
ANHA said that the Manbij Military Council (MMC) coordinated the defection of the fighters, and moved them safely to the SDF-held areas. The sources also claimed that 80 other fighters of the ES defected last week also with a help from the MMC .
From its side, Colonel Haitham al-Afisi a commander of the ES told the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi that only 5 fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) defected and fled to the SDF areas with their families. Colonel al-Afisi claimed that the defectors are known for their bad behavior and that they defected because they want to go back to their hometowns in Deir Ezzor governorate.
In 2017 hundreds of fighter defected from both sides. However, the most notable case was the defection of Talal Silo, the former spokesman for the SDF, on November 15. After he joined the ES, Silo revealed to the Turkish Intelligence dozens of SDF spies among the ranks of the ES, according to Syrian opposition sources.