Syrian government brings reinforcements to frontlines in Manbij: SOHR

“The reinforcements comprise dozens of heavy weapons and tanks.”
Syrian government forces (Photo: AFP)
Syrian government forces (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Huge Syrian government reinforcements arrived to the frontlines in Manbij in eastern Aleppo and in Ain Issa, north of Raqqa, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reported on Monday.

“The reinforcements comprise dozens of heavy weapons and tanks, where a military convoy comprising over 50 military vehicles was spotted heading from Aleppo towards Al-Raqqa and crossed Qarkozak bridge,” SOHR said.

“Moreover, a huge convoy arrived at the frontlines of Al-Arima village in Manbij countryside, and comprised dozens of machineries, and stationed near the frontlines with Turkish-backed factions.”

Syrian Kurdish journalist Mahmoud Sheikh Ibrahim tweeted on Monday that locals near Ain Issa and Kobani confirmed the arrival of Syrian military forces with heavy weapons. “The convoy was led by a SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) vehicle and followed by many Syrian armed artillery and military vehicles.” 

Al Arabiya quoted Farhad Shami, the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) media center, who said 550 Syrian soldiers arrived in SDF areas near Ain Issa, al-Bab, Manbij and Kobani after a military agreement with Damascus.

Deputy Co-chair of the Executive Council of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) Badran Chiya Kurd earlier this week told Rojava FM that there has been an understanding “between the Syrian government and Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) to protect the Syrian borders with Turkey and that there are wider discussions to broaden the understanding to deter any possible Turkish attack."

Also in October 2019, Syrian government forces entered Tal Tamr and other towns under a Moscow-backed agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following a Turkish offensive in the area.

“Since 2019 there is an understanding to protect the border and now with Russian mediation there are discussions to extend such an understanding that may serve the region and the people and preserve stability here,” Chiya Kurd said.

The arrival of Syrian government forces comes amidst reports that allegedly two civilians were killed and two were injured in the village of Hoshan, northwest of Ain Issa.

"Reports say some 500 Syrian soldiers have arrived to northeastern Syria, and the SDF says they're there to dissuade a Turkish attack. But as usual, it is unclear exactly what's going on, what sort of agreements may be at play, and to what extent this is a real collaborative effort or just two rival actors signaling cooperation for temporary, tactical reasons," Aron Lund, a fellow at Century International, told Kurdistan 24.

"Ultimately, what both the SDF and the Syrian government want is to get Russia to commit to blocking a new Turkish-led advance. Although it prefers to focus exclusively on the SDF, Turkey could punch through Syrian army defenses if it commits enough forces. But it's not going to attack Russian soldiers."

Lund underlined that Russia's position on a new Turkish operation is the most important part of this equation.

"After some initial dithering, Russian diplomats have come out in opposition to a Turkish incursion, or at least that's their public position now," he added.

Read More: Turkish operation complicated by Russian objections and interests: analysts

"Still, it's not clear how far the Russians are willing to go to keep the Turks out if Ankara decides to ramp up the pressure. Russia is in deep trouble after its disastrous invasion of Ukraine, and it needs to maintain good relations with Turkey. You currently have a lot of Ankara-Moscow issues at play at once, regarding Ukraine and the Black Sea but also Syria."

Moreover, he said another issue is the UN's cross-border aid to northwestern Syria, which Russia could veto to prevent continued aid after July 10, when a key resolution expires. "Turkey does not want that to happen," he said.

"So both sides have leverage over each other in different ways, although Turkey's has clearly improved its position vis-à-vis the Russians since the Ukraine War began."


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