Syrian Military Takes Control of Flash-Point Kurdish-Led Town

BEIRUT (AP) -
Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters walk on the rubble of damaged shops and buildings in the city of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria. (Reuters/Rodi Said/File Photo)

Syria’s military says it has entered the flash-point Kurdish-held town of Manbij, where Turkey has threatened offensive.

The announcement Friday came shortly after the main Syrian Kurdish militia invited the government to seize control of Manbij to prevent an attack. The development signals the two sides have agreed to the new arrangement. It’s not clear what happens to the U.S. troops who patrolled the town and tense front line between Manbij and adjacent towns where Turkey-backed fighters were based.

Turkey, which views the Kurdish militia as a terrorist group, had threatened a military operation against Manbij.

The threats triggered the U.S. announcement it would withdraw troops from Syria.

The Syrian military said it was responding to calls from residents of Manbij and promised safety for all living there.

The Kremlin said it welcomed the Syrian military’s entry into the flash-point Kurdish-held town where Turkey has threatened an offensive. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the development as a “positive step” that could help “stabilize the situation.”

The Syrian entry into Manbij comes a day before Moscow is to host top Turkish officials to discuss the crisis in Syria after the United States announced it will withdraw its troops from the country.