23:18 GMT +319 January 2019
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    Kurdish YPG Fighters

    400 Kurdish YPG Militants Leave Manbij Under Deal With Damascus (VIDEO)

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    Earlier, a Sputnik correspondent reported that Syrian Army units had deployed near Manbij in a bid to prevent a possible Turkish military operation in the Syrian Kurdish-controlled area.

    About 400 Syrian Kurdish YPG militants left Manbij in 30 vehicles since January 1 after reaching an agreement with Damascus to withdraw from the area, the Syrian Defence Ministry has announced in a press statement.

    According to the Defence Ministry, the militia units left Manbij for the east bank of the Euphrates River.

    The Defence Ministry released a video showing the Kurdish forces' withdrawal on its Facebook page.

    Earlier, the Syrian military announced that it had entered Manbij and raised the Syrian flag in the area in a deal with Kurdish forces.

    The Syrian Kurdish forces appealed to the Syrian government to take control over areas they were evacuating, including Manbij, in a bid to stave off a possible Turkish invasion. Ankara, which considers the YPG to be a terrorist group, previously threatened to launch a new operation in Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria. In recent weeks, onlookers have spotted concentrations of Turkish military hardware in southern Turkey on the border with Syria. Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch a new offensive in the area, ostensibly targeting both the Kurds and Daesh*, but later announced that the operation had been postponed after a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump.

    Syria plunged into a state of foreign-backed multi-sided war in 2011, with government forces fighting a broad collection of militants dominated by Islamist extremists. Syrian forces withdrew from majority-Kurdish areas in north and northeast Syria in the early months of the war, leaving Kurdish militias in de-facto control. Notwithstanding rare clashes, Damascus and the Kurds have generally maintained cordial relations in the common fight against the terrorists, with Damascus hinting at the provision of some level of autonomy to Kurdish areas once the war ends.

    During the war against Daesh, Syria's Kurds have received military assistance from the US-backed coalition, with the US military illegally deploying 2,000 troops Syria. Last month, President Trump announced that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria now that Daesh has been defeated. Trump doubled down on his decision on Monday, saying he would move to fulfil his campaign promise of withdrawing the US from the "never ending wars" in the Middle East. The US president's decision prompted a series of high-profile resignations at the Pentagon and State Department, with Defence Secretary James Mattis announcing that he would step down from his post next month.

    *aka ISIS, a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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