BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian army deployed forces near Manbij in northern Syria on Friday, a war monitor and a U.S. official said, after the Kurdish YPG militia urged Damascus to protect the town, where U.S. forces operate, from the threat of a Turkish offensive.

A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel rides on a truck with a mounted weapon at Manbij countryside, Syria December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Manbij, which U.S.-backed forces captured from Islamic State in 2016, has emerged as a focal point of new tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces whose presence has effectively deterred Turkey.

After a Syrian army announcement declaring government troops had entered Manbij, Turkey-backed Syrian rebels stationed in nearby territory said they had begun moving together with Turkish forces toward the town in readiness for “the start of military operations to liberate” it.

A witness said convoys of Turkey-backed insurgents, with armored vehicles and machine guns, were moving toward the frontline with the town.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the Syrian government forces had entered a strip of territory at the edge of Manbij, not inside the town itself, creating a barrier with Turkey-backed fighters nearby.

Manbij, where U.S. troops have a military base, is held by a local militia allied to the YPG which Turkey deems a security threat.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that U.S. troops had not changed their positions in Manbij and…

Mayra Rodriguez
Follow Me

Mayra Rodriguez

Content Editor at oneQube
Work from home mom dedicated to my family. Total foodie trying new recipes.Love hunting for the best deals online. Wannabe style fashionista. As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.
Mayra Rodriguez
Follow Me

Latest posts by Mayra Rodriguez (see all)