BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:08 P.M.) – On Wednesday, the Turkish Armed Forces, Ahrar al-Sham, Failaq Al-Sham and several predominately Turkmen brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a fresh assault against Syrian and Kurdish belligerents in the countryside between Al-Bab and Manbij.
Targeting positions held by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Turkish-led Euphrates Shield forces attempted to dislodge Syrian troops and Kurdish fighters from a handful of villages on the perimeter of Arima.
At the village of Batoushiyah, Turkish-backed rebel forces captured two members of the National Defence Forces (NDF), bringing the total number of captive Syrian government troops to at least 20 over the past week.
Clashes were especially intense around Al-Bughaz; this village is defended hand in hand by the SDF, Manbij Military Council, NDF and Syrian border guards. One FSA group claimed to have destroyed a remote-controlled SDF car bomb near Al-Bughaz.
Neither side gained any ground during the skirmishes.
— Chris Tomson (@TheDaneChris) March 9, 2017
Earlier today, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglure affirmed that the Euphrates Shield forces were to expel Kurdish militants from Manbij: “We will attack the YPG (red. SDF) in Manbij … We will free Manbij from the yoke of terror”.
The YPG is supported by the United States, which has special forces stationed near Manbij, despite the Kurdish group being a sister party of the outlawed PKK.
Russian troops are also present in the region alongside Kurdish and Syrian troops; Moscow is seen as a mediator between the two parties:
— EndiZentarmi ✌ (@EndiZentarmi) March 9, 2017