Ahmed Osman, commander of the Sultan Murad Brigade, part of the Free Syrian Army rebel militia taking part in the Turkish-led military operation in northern Syria, has confirmed to Sputnik that Turkish and US officials are in intense negotiations over the fate of the northern Syrian city of Manbij.
According to the commander, his forces are preparing for a possible offensive in the area. "We want to take Manbij without military action, on the basis of an agreement, but if an agreement is not reached, Turkey and the FSA will conduct a military operation," he said.
"We are ready for such a scenario. In the event of a military operation, Manbij will be taken significantly faster than Afrin, since it has a smaller civilian population and fewer Kurdish YPG militia formations. The only difficulty and problem with Manbij is the presence of the US military there," Osman added.
"At the moment, no agreement between the US and Turkey on Manbij has been reached. If it was, the US military would not be increasing its presence in the region," the SDF commander said.
"We regularly negotiate with US military representatives. They are saying that they do not intend to leave Manbij. For our part, we, as the representatives of Manbij's people, also have no plans to retreat. We will defend our city if it is attacked," Adil added.
On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkey's armed forces would "not give up on constricting terrorist organizations" in northern Syria, warning that the military was "ready for new missions."
Earlier, a SDF source presented Sputnik with evidence of a growing French military presence in Manbij. Last month, the SDF said that the US military had promised the Kurds that they would retaliate if anyone attacked the city.
Damascus has condemned both the Turkish and US military operations in the country, calling the deployments an illegal violation of Syria's territorial integrity.