With US Departure
Syria’s Manbij braces for upheaval
MANBIJ, Dec 30: The city of Manbij has switched control more than most places in Syria's civil war. With U.S. troops set to leave after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw them, residents fear others will rush to fill the vacuum, causing more upheaval: Syrian government forces have deployed nearby while Turkey is threatening its own assault on the city.
U.S. forces have underpinned stability in Manbij since Islamic State's defeat here in 2016.
Some 30 km (20 miles) from the Turkish border, it occupies a critical spot in the map of the Syrian conflict, near the junction of three separate blocks of territory that form spheres of Russian, Turkish and - for now - U.S. influence.
While U.S. forces have yet to leave, the consequences of Trump's decision are already playing out in Manbij. Russian-backed Syrian government forces entered the outskirts on Friday for the first time in years at the invitation of Kurdish YPG militia who fear the U.S. departure could open the way for a Turkish attack. "We have been living in fear for the past few days and we don't know what is happening and who will enter the city," said Ismail Shaalan, 41, who has lived in Manbij since fleeing fighting in the Aleppo area two years ago. "Is it the Turks or the Syrians?" -REUTERS