In Syria, Turkish-backed rebel forces are claiming they’re in position to take control of the northern city of Manbij - and are promising to resist any attempts by the Syrian government to recapture it.
“We are now ready to enter Manbij,” said Abu Farouq of the Free Syrian Army. “We wish to contradict rumours spread by the regime. President Bashar al-Assad and his thugs won't be able to enter the city. God willing, we, the Free Syrian Army, along with brothers from all factions will enter Manbij as liberators.”
The city has become a focus of tensions following the US government’s decision to withdraw its forces from the region.
Turkey is backing these rebel forces as a means of countering the Kurdish YPG militia, which it sees as a terrorist organisation. Stripped of the stabilising impact of the American presence, the Kurdish forces have asked for protection from Damascus against the threat of a full scale Turkish offensive.