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29 Dec, 2018 13:07

Turkey deploys extra tanks to Syrian border amid tension over Manbij – media

Turkey deploys extra tanks to Syrian border amid tension over Manbij – media

The Turkish Army has deployed additional tanks and APCs to its southern border, Turkish media report. The forces are being moved amid tensions over the strategic Syrian city of Manbij as Damascus said it was sending troops there.

The additional tanks and armored personnel carriers were transported to several Turkish provinces bordering northern Syria, including Hatay, Kilis and Sanliurfa, according to the local media. The hardware came from other parts of Turkey and reinforces the armor already amassed near the border.

Turkey’s show of force comes after Damascus said it was sending troops to Manbij, a strategically important city on the western bank of Euphrates River. It was a response to a call by Kurdish militias, who said it was time for the Syrian government to provide security in the city and that the Kurdish forces would be focusing on fighting jihadists elsewhere.

The Kurdish call followed concerns that Turkey may deliver on a threat to launch a new “anti-terrorism” operation in Syria targeting the militias. Ankara considers all Kurdish fighters a threat to its national security and has been complaining about their presence in Manbij. The tensions further escalated after the US announced it would be withdrawing troops from the Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria, potentially exposing their Kurdish allies to a Turkish onslaught.

The situation in Manbij is the focus of Saturday’s talks in Moscow between senior Russian and Turkish officials. Moscow supports Damascus in its fight against jihadists, but takes into account the interests of Ankara when deciding on its Syrian policies.

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