ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Syrian government forces on Friday announced they had entered into the northern city of Manbij for the first time in years and had raised Syrian flag. This came shortly after Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) called on Damascus to stave off a threatened Turkish invasion.
The army in a statement broadcasted on the state TV said it would guarantee “full security for all Syrian citizens and others present in the area.”
In a statement, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov welcomed the Syrian forces' entry into Manbij, calling it “a positive step that will contribute to restoring stability in the region.”
Tehran also welcomed the decision, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry describing it as “an important step [toward] consolidating the sovereignty of the legitimate government of Syria and… resolving the crisis in the country,” according to the country’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.
This significant development appears a result of talks between Syrian Kurds and Moscow that have taken place over the past few days.
Though there were unconfirmed reports of Syrian armed forces entering Manbij earlier on Friday morning, they were disputed by conflicting accounts that the forces had been seen at that time only at a few locations in Arima, to the southeast.
The Syrian troops are expected to deploy immediately only to positions in northern and western Manbij and will not likely take full control of the city for the time being.
“Due to the invading Turkish state’s threats to invade northern Syria and displace its people similarly to al-Bab, Jarablus and Afrin, we as the People’s Protection Units, following the withdrawal of our forces from Manbij before, announce that our forces will be focusing on the fight against ISIS on all the fronts in the east of the Euphrates,” the YPG said in a statement released earlier that day.
Editing by John J. Catherine