Tension is mounting around the key Kurdish-held hub of Manbij in northern Syria. Shortly after Damascus announced the deployment of troops in that city, Turkish APCs crossed into Syria and US helicopters were filmed in the air.
Earlier on Friday, Damascus had said that its troops were sent to Manbij, in response to a call by Kurdish YPG militias ahead of a looming Turkish military operation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to believe the Syrian statement, brushing it aside as just a “psychological action.”
Later in the day, the Turkish military crossed into Syrian territory at the border town of Jarablus in the province of Aleppo. Footage by RT’s Ruptly video agency showed several convoys of Ankara’s armored personnel carriers making their way through streets.
In another video two aircraft – believed to be US Army attack helicopters – are seen patrolling the area close to an outpost flying an American flag near Manbij. The footage is a reminder that while US President Donald Trump said he will withdraw the American troops from Syria, the actual pullout is yet to materialize, and may take months to complete.
Manbij came into the spotlight earlier this month after Ankara announced it may launch a new “anti-terrorist operation” in Syria. The threat was targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, which the Turkish government considers terrorists and an extension of Turkey’s domestic Kurdish insurgency. Ankara complained that the US, a patron of the Syrian Kurds, failed to heed its concerns about the presence of YPG in and around Manbij.