The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) deployed hundreds of well-equipped soldiers from the 1st Division and the Republican Guards west of the northern city of Manbij in the last 24 hours, a military source told SouthFront on December 26.
Several Syrian pro-government news outlets said that the SAA will enter Manbij soon under an agreement between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls the city, and the Damascus government. However, SouthFront’s source declined to confirm or deny these claims.
“We have a principled question: who will control the territory led by the United States? It’s clear the Syrian government should control this part of their territory,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said earlier.
Syrian soldiers, backed up by Russian service members, entered the village of Arima west of Manbij and established a military position there on December 25. The Manbij Military Council (MMC), which is commanded by the SDF, said that Russian forces “reactivated a coordination center in Arima” and that the SAA presence there is not new.
Turkey and its proxies have been preparing to launch an attack on Kurdish forces inside Manbij. In the last few day, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) deployed thousands of fighters north and west of the strategic city.
Despite this escalation, Manbij will likely remain in the hands of the SDF until U.S. and French forces present there withdraw.