Syrian regime takes over Manbij as US troops withdraw

Syrian regime takes 'full control' of Manbij as US troops withdraw
2 min read
15 October, 2019
The US-led coalition confirms that its forces have withdrawn from Manbij as the Syrian regime takes 'full control' of the city.
Turkish soldiers and Turkey-backed Syrian fighters pictured on the northern outskirts of Manbij. [Getty]
Syrian regime forces took "full control" of the city of Manbij on Tuesday, as US forces withdrew from Kurdish-controlled regions in northeast Syria, officials said.

The flashpoint area housed US outposts from where they patrolled the region since 2017 to deter a confrontation between Turkey and Kurdish fighters.

"Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. We are out of Manbij," Col. Myles B. Caggins tweeted.

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said the risk to US forces in northeast Syria had reached an "unacceptable level" due to "Turkey's irresponsible actions".

"Therefore at @POTUS' direction DoD is executing a deliberate withdrawal of US military personnel from NE Syria," he tweeted.

His tweet came hours after Syrian state media reported that government forces have moved into the centre of Manbij where they raised the national flag.

"The Syrian government army has full control over the city of Manbij and nearby settlements," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

Read more: Syria After the Uprisings: How the Assad government prevented its imminent collapse

Syrian military forces moved into the area as part of a deal that has seen regime troops deployed to several Kurdish-controlled areas in the north of the country to protect the region from Ankara's assault.

Kurdish groups had struck a deal with Syrian regime forces to fend off the Turkish invasion, as their former ally, the US, has ordered a withdrawal from the northern border zone.

Moscow's defence ministry said Russian forces were continuing to patrol border regions along the "line of contact" between Syrian and Turkish forces.

"Cooperation has been organised with the Turkish side," it said.

Moscow's special envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, said Tuesday that it would not allow clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces.

"This would simply be unacceptable.... And therefore we will not allow it, of course," Lavrentyev, who was on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. 

He said Turkish and Syrian officials were in contact to avoid any conflict. 

"Negotiations are taking place in real time," he said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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