MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdish-led military command in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on Thursday announced they destroyed four Turkish army tanks in the western countryside of the township.
In a statement, the Manbij Military Council (MMC), a Syrian Arab-Kurdish coalition allied to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said the Turkish army airstrikes and shelling had changed the course of their battle against the Islamic State (IS) since last week.
The MMC statement said the Turkish airstrikes were supposed to be against IS in al-Bab town in northern Syria, but the Turkish warplanes and artillery were targeting the liberated areas around Manbij.
“Our forces [MMC] blew up four Turkish tanks around the village of Sheikh Naser, west of Manbij,” the statement said.
“The Turkish army is supposed to fight [IS], not us,” the statement continued.
On the destruction of the Turkish tanks, several MMC fighters told Kurdistan24 they hadn’t received any orders to attack the IS-held areas in the western countryside of Manbij, but they had the right to defend themselves.
“We have rescued dozens of wounded civilians from the villages west of Manbij because of the intensive Turkish airstrikes and shelling in the last two days,” said an MMC fighter.
“We destroyed the [Turkish] tanks in the defense of our territories,” the soldier added.
The MMC fighters spoke to Kurdistan24 on condition of anonymity as they are restricted from talking openly to the media for military and security reasons.
Regarding the casualties, the MMC press office said their fighters killed two and wounded dozens of the Turkey-based Syrian Islamist rebels who are fighting on the ground, backed by Turkish warplanes.
Meanwhile, about eight civilians were killed in the areas between Manbij and al-Bab last week.
Moreover, thousands of civilians fled and resorted to Manbij after the MMC opened a corridor on Thursday in the warring areas between them and the Turkey-backed Syrian Islamist rebels.
The Turkish army could not be reached for comment.
The People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led, US-backed SDF withdrew from Manbij to support the offensive they launched on the IS de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria about three weeks ago.
The SDF and their allied coalition of MMC fighters launched the Manbij operation on May 31 and liberated the town completely on Aug. 12 after a two-month battle.
Although mainstream media presents SDF as an inclusive force, the YPG is the primary element of the coalition and outnumbers all other groups.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany