Syrian government troops have entered the northern Kurdish-held city of Manbij on the sixth day of Turkey’s aggression against the Arab country, state media says.
Syria’s official news agency SANA made the announcement without providing further details.
A local official in Manbij also confirmed that troops had “entered (Manbij) and deployed on front lines.”
Manbij was liberated from the Daesh terrorist group in 2016. Since then, it has been controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.
The development came a day after Syrian government forces and the Syrian Kurds struck an alliance to help fend off the Turkish offensive after US troops pulled out of the region.
Earlier on Monday, Syrian army troops entered the towns of Tabqah, Ayn Isa and Tal Tamr in northeastern Syria after Damascus deployed troops in the area.
Tal Tamr is 35 kilometers southeast of Ra’s al-Ayn which is currently under the control of Turkish troops. It is on a strategically important highway, the M4, which runs east to west. Turkish forces seized the highway on Sunday.
Turkish military forces and militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), who enjoy Ankara’s patronage, launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria on October 9, in a declared attempt to eliminate Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to push them away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been involved in armed separatism in Turkey since 1984.
Washington has long been providing the YPG and SDF militants with arms, calling them a key partner in the purported fight against Daesh in Syria. Many observers, however, see the support as part of plans by the United States to carve out a foothold in the Arab country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Turkey will not back down from its offensive against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria irrespective of “what anyone says.”
The United Nations said in a statement on Monday that the Turkish offensive has so far displaced at least 160,000 civilians, calling for an “immediate de-escalation.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned over the military developments in northeast Syria,” and urged “all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means.”