The PYD/PKK terrorist group’s so-called “Manbij Military Council” on Monday declared that Syria’s northern city of Manbij would not be surrendered to Syrian regime forces.
In a statement, the council also said that Assad regime forces would only be deployed between forces taking part in the Turkey-led Operation Euphrates Shield and PYD/PKK forces.
The PYD/PKK, the council said, would protect itself with U.S. forces stationed to the north of Manbij and regime forces to the city’s west and south.
Russian military officials had said earlier that Manbij would be handed over to the Assad regime. While U.S. officials said they had no information on the proposed handover, the Syrian regime has kept silent on the issue.
Local sources in Manbij told Anadolu Agency that the PYD/PKK had recently handed over three villages in the area but that regime forces had not entirely filled the vacuum.
U.S. forces are currently deployed north of Manbij between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the PYD/PKK.
According to reports in the media, U.S. Special Forces are now gradually advancing on Manbij’s Ayn Dadat area.
Manbij is surrounded by U.S. forces from the north and by Syrian regime forces from the south and southwest, with the latter hoping to establish a buffer zone against the FSA in the west.
The district is bordered to the east by the Euphrates River.
The PYD/PKK currently controls Kobani (also known as Ayn al-Arab), Tell Abyad and Al-Hasakah.
This week, the General Command of the Kurdish Regional Government’s Peshmerga forces announced that the PKK had sent heavy weapons to Mosul’s Sinjar district on Sunday.
Sources in Manbij confirm that militants and heavy weaponry have been deployed to Sinjar, taking advantage of the protection afforded by the U.S. presence.
Manbij stands only 30 kilometers from the Turkish border. In 2012, the Syrian opposition captured Manbij, but the Daesh terrorist group retook the district in early 2014.
With U.S. air support, the PYD/PKK later managed to drive Daesh from Manbij.
The U.S. had promised Turkey that the PYD/PKK would leave the area after capturing it, but this promise failed to materialize.
Manbij is inhabited mainly by Arabs, with only a couple thousand Kurds and Turkmen living there.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara