US, Russia aim to prevent clashes between Turkey and Syrian Kurds: official

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Turkish army forces (R), and Kurdish YPG-SDF fighters (L). Photo: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News

The US-led coalition is sending more armored vehicles to the north of Manbij city near the Sajur river in order to deter hostile acts between the the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkey, and to ‘keep the focus on ISIS’, a coalition spokesperson said on Saturday.

Also, a Russian aid convoy arrived to western Manbij for the same goal.

“[The US-led] coalition has taken this deliberate action to reassure Coalition members and partner forces, deter aggression and keep focus on defeating ISIS,” Air Force Col John L. Dorrian Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) said.

“[The coalition] has been active in and around Manbij since Summer of 2016, when the city was liberated from Daesh [ISIS],” he tweeted.

The US-led coalition has also “increased force presence in, around Manbij to deter hostile acts, enhance governance & ensure there’s no persistent YPG presence,” according to Colonel Dorrian.

While the Americans are positioned north of Manbij, a Russian aid convoy arrived west of Manbij on Saturday, with pictures shown online of a fighter of the SDF-linked Manbij Military Council (MMC) hosting a Russian flag.

This comes after an agreement between Russia and the Kurds, to hand over some villages to the Syrian government to create a buffer zone in order to prevent clashes between the Turkish-led Euphrates Shield operation and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“We have noticed and observed and are aware of the fact that these humanitarian convoys sponsored by the regime [of President Bashar al-Assad] and Russia have been moving into Manbij, and that they have some armoured equipment with them,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis was quoted by the Turkish government outlet TRT.

“All I would say is we just continue to want to see all parties on ground focus [on Daesh],” Davis said, adding that Russia had informed the US about the convoys ahead of time through a special hotline.

On Friday, heavy clashes continued between the SDF and Turkey-backed fighters despite the presence of foreign forces in Manbij. Also on Saturday, clashes took place west of Manbij, according to local sources.

Turkey-backed Islamist rebels started to attack Manbij after liberating the town of al-Bab from ISIS on 23 February.

On Saturday evening, the Turkish army targeted with heavy weapons the village of Qara Baba close to Rajo near the Kurdish Afrin District in northwestern Syria, a local source told ARA News. It was not immediately clear whether the bombardment caused any casualties.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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