MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – US-backed, Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria on Wednesday said the US began setting up two military bases in Manbij city after Turkey recently threatened to attack it.
Senior members of the Manbij Military Council (MMC), an ally to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the Syrian Kurdish YPG is a leading component, told Kurdistan 24 the US-led coalition had established military bases on the line against the Turkish forces along with their allied Syrian rebels, known as the Euphrates Shield militants.
“This base belongs to American special forces, and we are preparing for the other base as well,” Shiyar Gerde, a senior MMC member, said.
“We are working together on all these weapons to protect the area where we are operating,” he added.
Another senior member of the Council confirmed the presence of French troops there as well.
“Recently, the number of coalition forces has increased, and most of the newly deployed troops are from the US in addition to other nationalities, including France and the UK,” Khalil Mustafa, an MMC officer, told Kurdistan 24.
“All the new troops operate within the framework of the international coalition [against IS],” he noted.
Since Manbij city was liberated in 2016 by the MMC and the US-led coalition, the coalition has been monitoring the region and supervises the military operations in the area.
But now they are establishing more military bases as well.
Turkey, which seized the northern Syrian town of Afrin two weeks ago after a two-month offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), has repeatedly threatened to push its operations further east to Manbij where US troops are stationed.
An expansion of Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory further east would risk a confrontation between the NATO allies.
Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—which is locked in a decades-long fight against the Turkish state—and has been infuriated by the support Washington has provided the Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Redwan Bezar in Manbij)