On December 30 and 31 reports appeared that Turkey had oredered their proxies deployed near the northern Syrian town of Manbij to end the state of emergency and withdraw from the frontline with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
However, despite these reports no indications of real de-escalation on the ground have been observed so far. Furthermore, more and more Turkish battle tanks appear to be moving to the areas bordering the SDF-held part of Syria
Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) came with a new report claiming that Syrian Army troops have started withdrawing from positions north of Manbij where they have recently been deployed. If this is confirmed, the army withdrawal will open a new window for a possible Turkish military operation in the area.
It should be noted that a similar situation was observed during the battle for Afrin in 2018. Initially, Syrian Army troops entered the Afrin region with an aim to prevent Turkish military operation. But the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) refused to allow the return of government institutions to the area and continued release various demands to the Damascus government. Then, the army troops withdrew and the Turkish Armed Forces backed up by their proxies captured the city of Afrin from the YPG.