Manbij, which U.S.-backed forces captured from Islamic State in 2016, has emerged as a focal point of new tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces whose presence has effectively deterred Turkey. After a Syrian army announcement declaring government troops had entered Manbij, Turkey-backed Syrian rebels stationed in nearby territory said they had begun moving together with Turkish forces toward the town in readiness for “the start of military operations to liberate” it. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the Syrian government forces had entered a strip of territory at the edge of Manbij, not inside the town itself, creating a barrier with Turkey-backed fighters nearby.
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