The United States and Turkey have not been able to reach an agreement over the Syrian city of Manbij, which has been controlled by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who, in turn, had captured the strategic city from Daesh* with US-led coalition support in 2016.
The Syrian civil war might face a brand-new phase as the US-backed SDF and Turkish forces appear to be on opposing sides in northern Syria’s Manbij, which could undermine the fight against Daesh. While Ankara considers the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the leading component of the SDF, to be terrorists, and has repeatedly urged Washington to pull out the Kurdish militia from Manbij, the US has consistently argued that its forces are located in the city, and they have the right to defend themselves along with their partners.
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Despite Turkey’s hardline rhetoric regarding the withdrawal of the SDF from the area and its full control over Afrin, the US’ stance did not change a bit. According to Nicholas Heras, a Middle East Security fellow at the Center for a New American Security, the US military are not willing to make concessions to Turkey over Manbij out of fear the US-backed SDF, consisting of Kurds and Arabs fighting Daesh, might spin out of control, as the move could be regarded as betrayal by the forces.
“Manbij for the US is more than just a territory on the map. For the US…