On January 24, the Turkish Army artillery shelled a position of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) around the village of al-Dindaniyah west of Manbij in the Syrian province of Aleppo, according to the SDF’s Manbij Military Council (MMC). Kurdish sources added that the village of Shuyukh north of Manbij was also shelled by the Turkish Army.
The MMC reported that several warplanes of the US-led coalition flew over city after the shelling in what appears to be a US warning to the Turkish Army.
Earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned during a speech to the heads of local governments in the city of Ankara that the Turkish Army will extend its ongoing military operation against Kurdish militias in the Afrin area to include Manbij.
“We will completely clear the region of terrorists, beginning with [the Syrian city of] Manbij and throughout our entire border [with Syria], ensuring our security,” Erdogan said accurding to the Russian news agency Sputnik.
In response to the Turkish threat, Sharfan Darwish, a spokesman for the MMC, said that the US-backed force took positions on the frontlines around Manbij to confront any possible Turkish attack and are in contact with the US-led coalition over protecting the city. according to Reuters.
“Of course we in the Manbij Military Council have taken the necessary measures and deployed our forces to the frontlines … We are in full readiness to respond to any attack [By the Turkish Army] … Of course our coordination with the international coalition continues with regards to the protection of Manbij,” Reuters quoted Darwish.
The shelling was likely a Turkish test to see how far the US is willing to go in order to protect its alliance with the Kurdish-dominated SDF in northern Syria.