As previously reported by Al-Masdar News, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have agreed to conceede 20 villages to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in a bid to halt the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield campaign from capturing the city of Manbij.
The villages in question, all located between Al-Bab and Manbij, are the following: Arimah, Arab Hassan Kabir, Zunqul, Khirbat Nafakh, Al-Farat, Jamus Wiran, Dandaniyah, Sayadah, Qurt Wiran, Sab Wiran, Kur Huyuk, Qawuqli, Al-Bughaz, Ulashli, Abu Hayj, Tall Turin, Qarah, Jubb al-Hamir, Al-Hutah, and Mil Wiman.
Syrian troops are now present in the aforementioned areas, typified by one member of the pro-government National Defence Forces (NDF) surrendering himself to the Euphrates Shield forces earlier in the day during clashes in the region.
Nevertheless, the SDF still maintains a garrison of People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the villages, advising the NDF and SAA about the ins and outs of regional defences. This area is manned mostly by government troops of Kurdish origin, much similar to the frontline situation directly north of Aleppo city.
According to a source close to Al-Masdar News, NDF commanders and the Manbij Military Council agreed to the deal in order to avoid diverting Kurdish troops from its ongoing Raqqa offensive. Another part of the agreement involved increased trade and tons of Russian humanitarian aid arriving in Manbij city.
The last YPG fighters will leave the newly conceded villages and return to Manbij city shortly. However, a representative of the SDF-linked Manbij Military Council stressed that the SDF would not surrender control of Manbij city and its immediate countryside.
While a Turkish minister said the Manbij deal was acceptable for the Euphrates Shield forces, some commanders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) insisted they would increase attacks on the SAA and eventually capture Manbij city anyway.
Earlier today, a Turkmen FSA faction also claimed to have killed 9 YPG militants at Abu Hayj while a SDF fighter said 30 rebel militants were neutralized over the past 24 hours.
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