On January 21, the Defense Ministry of the Turkish-backed Syrian Interim Government announced in an official statement that the National Syrian Army (NSA) launched a military operation against Kurdish militias in the areas of Afrin and Manbij in the province of Aleppo.
The interim government claimed that the NSA backed up by the Turkish Army had begun advancing on the city of Manbij held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
However, several Kurdish and Turkish sources denied that the NSA or the Turkish Army conducted any offensive operations against the SDF or any other Kurdish militias in Manbij. Furthermore, Syrian activists doubted that the Turkish Army could attack Manbij as several units of the US Army are currently deployed around it along with the SDF.
The statement is likely a threat to Kurdish forces in Manbij. The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups had released several statements like this one before. On December 24, 2017 the FSA claimed in a statement that it formed an operation room to capture Manbij from the SDF.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to attack Manbij after Afrin during a public speech in the central Anatolian province on January 20.
Several Turkish-backed FSA groups agreed to join the NSA under command of the Syrian Interim Government on October 25, 2017. Back than some observers expected that Turkey is planning to use the new Syrian force to attack Kurdish militias in northern Syria.