The Turkish military and its proxies are preparing a large offensive on the Syrian town of Manbij and its surroundings in the northern Aleppo countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on June 25.
Manbij is currently held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The US-backed group liberated the town from ISIS after a fierce battle in 2016.
According to the SOHR, the Turkish military and its proxies are making preparations and collecting information for the operation.
“The operation may begin after the upcoming Eid al-Adha, at the end of July or even later,” the London-based monitoring group said in its report.
Turkish forces may also attack the town of Ain Issa in the northern countryside of Raqqa as well as the border town of Kobane in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo. Both towns are also held by the SDF. The SOHR noted that these attacks are less likely to actually happen.
The situation around Manbij is far from being stable. Arab locals are dissatisfied with the rule of the Kurdish-led SDF. Furthermore, Turkish-backed militants attack the town’s surroundings on a regular basis. On June 24, four Turkish-backed militants were killed by the SDF near the town.
Any Turkish-led attack on Manbij will likely lead to a serious military confrontation with not only the SDF, but also with the Syrian Arab Army. Syrian government forces and the Russian Military Police maintain a network of positions around the town.
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