On May 9, Sharfan Darwish, a spokesman for the Manbij Military Council (MMC), told Reuters that the US-led coalition had established a new base in the northern Syrian area of Manbij three months ago to counter Turkish threats.
The MMC is considered the biggest Arab force within the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
“After the Turkish attack on Afrin and the increase in Turkish threats towards Manbij, coalition forces built the base to monitor and protect the border (between the combatants),” Darwish said, according to Reuters.
Senior Turkish officials, including the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have vowed to launch a military operation against the SDF in Manbij on several occasions since the beginning of 2018.
The MMC spokesman also revealed that French Army service members are stationed in the US-led coalition base in Manbij. According to Darwish, US and French forces patrol a front between the SDF and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The Turkish Anadolu Agency was the first to reveal, on April 27, that French forces are operating in the area of Manbij along with US troops and the SDF.
According to local observers, the deployment of US and French troops in Manbij forced Turkey to abandon its military plans against the SDF there. Now, Washington and Ankara are reportedly engaged in intense negotiations to solve the Manbij crisis.