UPDATED 7:34 AM PT — Friday, Dec. 28, 2018
Syrian Kurds are looking to renew their alliance with President Bashar al-Assad in order to receive protection from a Turkish attack on Manbij. The Kurdish YPG militia called on Assad Friday, urging him to take control of the independent region inside Syria to fend off threats from Turkey.
Previously, the Kurds were closely aligned with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, preventing an assault from Turkey. However, now that President Trump is withdrawing U.S. troops, they worry this would mean Turkey was free to invade their positions in Syria.
The militia said its fighters withdrew from Manbij to fight ISIS, so the town now needs Assad’s protection. Syrian troops reportedly took control of Manbij hours after the call for help, signaling the two sides have agreed to an alliance.
“Based on the commitment of the Syrian military and armed forces to their national duties of asserting the state’s sovereignty on every inch of territory in the Syrian Arab Republic, and in response to the calls from the residents of Manbij, the Syrian general command and armed forces announce the entry of Syrian Arab Army units into Manbij and the raising of the Syrian Republic flag there,” stated General Ali Mayhoub, spokesperson for the Syrian Army.
It is still unclear what will happen to the U.S. troops who patrolled Manbij. The flashpoint town is near other areas where Turkish-backed rebels are based, but Syria has promised to protect Manbij residents from attack.