A Co-Chairman of the Executive Council of the Democratic Civil Administration of Manbij denied that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has entered the northern city and said that units of the local Manbij Military Council (MMC) are still deployed there.
“The Syrian military deployment will be limited to the separation line between the MMC and the mercenaries of the Turkish occupation in order to counter any threat to the security and stability of the city of Manbij,” Mohamed Sheikhou added during an interview with the Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) on December 30.
Sheikhou also stressed that the MMC and security forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will continue to defend the city against any threat.
On December 28, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced its withdrawal from Manbij and called on the SAA to protect the city from Turkey’s threats. The army responded within few hours and deployed a large force in the outskirt of the strategic city.
The Kremlin confirmed that units of the SAA were deployed around Manbij. However, the US-led coalition denied any changes in military forces in city and activists confirmed that its forces are still there.
The army step was aimed at protecting the city and not at taking over it. The Damascus government may reach a wider agreement with the SDF to co-govern northeastern Syria, including Manbij, in the upcoming few weeks.