Steven Sahiounie, Middle East observer
The US and Russian military officers met late last night in Al Farat, a small village north of Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, according to media ‘Al Mayadeen’.
The purpose of the meeting was to coordinate military movements in the area. As a result, the US military removed equipment from Manbij to an unknown location. According to eyewitnesses, who reported to the Russian media ‘Sputnik’, 4 US military vehicles left Manbij traveling toward Al Golan Bridge, which connects Manbij with Ayn al Arab (Kobane). Analysts believe this paves the way for a major Syrian Arab Army (SAA) incursion into Manbij, accompanied by Russian security forces to prevent the city’s fall to the Turkish army in its military campaign, dubbed ‘Operation Peace Spring’.
The proposed military operation will consist of the SAA, and the Russian security forces moving into Manbij with heavy military equipment, to secure the city and establish control after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US pulled out. Sources have informed ‘Sputnik’, the city is empty of all Kurdish associated with the SDF, and those remaining are Syrian Arab citizens, who are eagerly awaiting the SAA and the Russians to enter Manbij and declare its liberation from occupation by the SDF, and the Kurdish state known as ‘Rojava’.
The Turkish military has adapted their operation, as a result of the US-Russian meeting last night, and will avoid Manbij and neighboring Tel Refat. The SAA received reinforcements at Al Araimah, between Manbij and Al Bab which is under occupation by the Turkish backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), a Syrian mercenary militia who are the ground forces used by Turkey to invade northeastern Syria. Russian Security Forces are patrolling the outskirts of Manbij.
Manbij had a population of nearly 100,000 before 2011, and the population was largely Arab, with Kurdish, Circassian and Chechen minorities. Manbij was captured by the Kurdish militia, SDF in summer 2016 from the ISIS occupiers, with the help of the US military. Prior to the planned offensive to oust ISIS from Manbij, the US had asked the Turkish to participate; however, Turkey refused because the US has partnered with the Kurdish militia SDF, which is closely aligned with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), and the PKK, who is an internationally recognized terrorist group, responsible for about 40,000 deaths in Turkey spanning 30 years. The US decided to rely on the SDF alone, and the operation was successful. After Manbij was cleared of ISIS the Kurds began displacing non-Kurds, and settling Kurdish families there, and instituting a non-Syrian governmental structure called ‘Rojava’, which is the name the Kurds have given their ‘autonomous administrative state in northeast Syria’ (NES), with its headquarters in Qamishli.
“Our allies had guaranteed us protection … but suddenly and without warning, they abandoned us in an unjust decision to withdraw their troops from the Turkish border,” the SDF said in a statement. The SDF and YPG had fought alongside the US military to defeat ISIS from Syria; however, in a surprising betrayal US Pres. Trump suddenly ordered his troops to withdraw, which effectively gave Turkish Pres. Erdogan the green-light to begin an ethnic-cleansing operation against the Kurds in northeast Syria, with the ultimate goal of changing the population into Syrian Arabs, after his proposed ‘safe-zone’ settles Syrian refugees in Turkey there, most of which are Pro-Erdogan and Pro-Muslim Brotherhood.
The Syrian refugees in Turkey are predominately people who were aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood sponsored ‘Arab Spring’ and left Syria because they were opposed to the secular Syrian government. The FSA was a jihadist militia that had the support of Pres. Obama, NATO and the EU in a bid for ‘regime change’. However, their mission failed after 8 years of war, 500,000 dead, and 10 million displaced. Turkey was one of the key actors in the US-NATO-EU plan, and was not only the transit point of the international terrorists traveling to fight in Syria, and the safe-haven for Syrian refugees, but was a Muslim Brotherhood governed country, as the AKP party and its leader, Pres. Erdogan was transforming a secular Turkey into an Islamist State.
“Let them have their borders, but I do not think our soldiers should be there for the next 15 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we cannot guard our own borders,” Trump said while addressing the Values Voters Summit’s Faith, Family, and Freedom Gala dinner on Saturday. While this speech was being delivered, 100,000 Kurdish civilians were fleeing their homes to shelter in schools at Hasseka, south of the battle-zone. Recently, Russian military officials landed in Hasseka airport to negotiate with the SDF in hopes of reconciling the Kurdish autonomous region, NES, with the Syrian central government in Damascus.
Today, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in an interview aired on ‘Face the Nation’ said, “We also have learned in the last 24 hours that ….. the SDF, are looking to cut a deal if you will with the Syrians and the Russians to- to counter-attack against the Turks in the north.” He added, “We got to see how this plays out. But again we’ve got to take this one step at a time. It’s a very fluid situation it’s changing by the hour.”