A convoy of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), consisting of 30 vehicles, has withdrawn from the city of Manbij to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) of Syria announced on January 2.
“The information indicates that around 400 Kurdish fighters have left Manbij so far,” the Syrian MoD added.
The MoD said that the supposed withdrawal was a part of an agreement between the the Damascus government and Kurdish group. The agreement is aimed at “restoring normal life to northern Syria.”
Few hours ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) claimed that the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) has withdrawn all of its forces from the frontlines around Manbij. Syrian opposition sources said that the step was taken upon direct orders from Turkey.
The YPG has not commented on the Syrian MoD announcement so far. Last week, the Kurdish group announced its withdrawal from Manbij and called on the Syrian Arab Army (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 Manbij.
These development indicate that the strategic city will remain under the control of the local Manbij Military Council (MMC). The council will likely allow the Damascus government’s institutions to resume their work in the northern city in exchange for preventing a Turkish attack after the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. forces.