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article imageTurks and allies to launch an offensive on Syrian city of Manbij

By Ken Hanly     Oct 15, 2019 in Politics
When the Turks launched their invasion of northern Syria last week, they claimed their intention was to create a 30 km deep "safe zone". They have yet to achieve that goal but they have now indicated they will move against the city of Manbij.
Turkey wants to settle Manbij with more Arabs
According to a recent article Turkey had a deal with the US to expel Kurds from the Arab majority city but the US never did expel them. Turkey claims it will settle Arabs in Manbij on taking control. Turkey-backed rebels have already claimed to be launching an offensive against the city.
Turkey has long been insisting that the Kurds who control the city must be expelled. While the northern part of the city is within 30 km of the border the rest is a bit beyond so to capture the entire city would be going beyond the 30 km limit.
Erdogan told reporters: “Our agreement with the United States was for the terrorist organizations to clear Manbij in 90 days,” he said, referring to the YPG. However, a year has passed and Manbij has not been cleared. We, as Turkey, will not go into Manbij when it’s emptied. The real owners of that area, the Arabs, and the tribes who are the true owners of that will go there. Our approach on this is for them to be settled there and to provide their security."
Manbij now under the control of Syrian armed forces
Under a deal brokered with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Manbij has now been occupied by Syrian forces who will help the Kurds fend off any attack by the Turks or their allies. Turkey and its allies will be facing a much more formidable opponent than just Kurdish militia alone. The scale of the Turkish invasion could be considerably expanded and the Turkish advance halted.
A recent report would suggest that Turkey itself may not enter into Manbij but that task will be left to Arab militia allies: "Earlier on Monday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Syrian Arab fighters, not Turkish forces, would enter the city, and that Ankara had an understanding with Russia about northeast Syria." Given that the Arab fighters will be facing Syrian army forces, they may be unable alone to retake the city.
Some reports have been critical of Turkish operation Peace Spring
As is common with military operations the Turkish invasion is given a euphemistic title: "Dubbed Operation Peace Spring, the offensive has been marked by reports of extreme violence against civilians, field executions of SDF fighters, and raised fears of ethnic cleansing among Kurds, who are the majority of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF."
More about manbij, Turkey in Syria, Syrian armed forces, Syrian Kurds
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