Russia-SDF agreement ‘does not change anything’ says Pentagon

The Pentagon on Friday commented on the transfer of Syrian government forces (SAA) into an area west of Manbij following the deal between the Manbij Military Council (MMC) and Russia.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the US was fully aware of the move. “It has not changed anything we are doing,” Davis said.

The Islamic State (IS) was pushed out of Manbij by the US-backed SDF in August last year, however Turkey has declared the city the next target for the Euphrates Shield Operation following the capture of al-Bab to the west.

With the SAA moving into a pocket of land in Arima, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups backed by Ankara have been blocked to the west of Manbij.

The FSA have also been prevented from launching attacks from the north of the city by US special forces deployed there.

Commentators believe tensions between Euphrates Shield forces, consisting of Turkish troops, Free Syrian Army and Ahrar al-Sham, could lead to clashes with the SAA.

“We encourage all forces to remain focused on the counter-ISIS (Islamic State) fight and concentrate their efforts on defeating ISIS and not towards other objectives,” Eric Pahon, a US defense department spokesman, said.