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Reports said Iraqi government forces are engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL militants in Western Mosul’s Tayyaran district on Wednesday, after they managed to fight off an ISIL attack and liberate more districts during the battle to force the terrorists into retreating further into the West of the city.
The fierce clashes in Tayyaran district began on Wednesday after Iraqi forces saw off an ISIL counter-attack near Mosul’s main government building hours after recapturing it, NRT reported.
Iraqi forces, backed by their allied forces, have fought since October in an intensive campaign to drive the ISIL militants out of Mosul, their last major stronghold in the country.
Local media also reported on Wednesday that Iraqi security forces managed to liberate al-Mansour and al-Shuhada districts in Western Mosul, dealing more blows to the militants in the battle to liberate the flashpoint city.
They recaptured the Eastern half of the city in January and launched assaults on the Western side, across the Tigris River, on Feb. 19.
ISIL militants are putting up stiff resistance, hiding among the civilian population and deploying car bombs and snipers.
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Manbij,Clashes between Euphrates Shield and Ypg/Pkk
The predominately Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warded off a joint offensive of the Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants of the Euphrates Shield Operation in the surrounding areas of the town of Manbij in Northeastern Syria, killing at least 16 pro-Turkey militants.
The SDF engaged in fierce clashes with the Turkish army men and militants of the Euphrates Shield Operation near Buqaz village Northeast of Aleppo and repelled their attack, killing 16 militants of the Euphrates Shield Operation and wounding several more.
Meanwhile, several military vehicles of the Euphrates Shield Operation forces sustained major damage and one armored vehicles of the Turkish army was destroyed in exchange of fire.
The Turkish-led forces were trying to penetrate into Buqaz village, but they were pushed back after sustaining heavy losses.
In a relevant development on Tuesday, Kurdish forces of the Manbij Military Council warded off heavy attacks of the Turkish soldiers and Ankara-led Euphrates Shield forces on the Western side of the town.
Field sources said that the Turkish army men and their allied militants shelled the Kurdish forces’ positions in the village of Olashli West of Manbij.
The sources added that fierce clashes erupted between the Kurdish forces and the Ankara-backed militants after the Turkish army drones started flying over the villages of Ilan, Buqaz and Olashli.
They pointed out that the Kurdish forces have been defending their positions in the villages of Ilan, Buqaz and Olashli against the Turkish soldiers’ attacks.
A source in the Manbij Military Council said on Monday that several villages controlled by the Kurdish forces in Northeastern Aleppo were handed over to the Syrian Army troops following the recent Russian-brokered agreement with Damascus.
The Arabic language desk of Sputnik quoted the source as saying that the Manbij Military Council delivered control of six villages to the Syrian army troops.
Sputnik added that the villages were in contact line with forces of the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield Operation in Manbij.
The news agency said that the six villages had been seized back from the ISIL during the Al-Bab liberation operation.
The villages are located some 22km to West of Manbij.
Sputnik went on to say that the US army deployed its forces and equipment in Manbij city, raising its flag in the city.
The military council of Manbij announced in a statement on Thursday that the Kurdish forces would surrender the villages bordering the areas occupied by the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operation militants to the Syrian army.
Then, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday announced that his government called on the US to evacuate the Kurds from Manbij in Aleppo province immediately, rejecting the agreement between the Kurds and the Damascus government.
Cavusoglu referred to the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Syria by the Turkey-backed militants, and told reporters that the Turkish forces did not move towards Manbij but they would start operations in the region soon.
Noting that the Turkish military men were ready to attack the Kurds in Manbij, he said that Ankara did not want Washington to continue support for the Kurds and it had several times warned the US that the Turkish forces would attack the Kurds soon.
Cavusoglu also said that Ankara and Moscow agreed to prevent clashes between the Syrian government forces and the Turkey-backed opposition (the Free Syrian Army militants), claiming that both of them pursue the same goal of annihilating the ISIL.
Elsewhere, he stood up to an agreement between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and Russia to surrender the villages controlled by the Kurds in Manbij to the Syrian government.
His remarks came as the military council of Manbij announced in a statement that the Kurdish forces will surrender the villages bordering the areas occupied by the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operation militants to the Syrian army.
The statement said that based on an agreement with the Russian side, the control of these villages will be given to the Syrian government’s border guards.
It added that the measure will be taken to maintain the security of civilians residing in Manbij and the surrounding areas as well as regions bordering al-Bab in the Western side of Manbij, and take on the greed of Turkey to occupy the Syrian territories.
The statement was issued after sources in Tal Rifat Town’s Military Council affiliated to the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group disclosed on Wednesday that the council forces will no more partner in the Euphrates Shield Operations against ISIL in Northeastern Aleppo as they are preparing to shift war to their Kurdish rivals within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operations is fought by various units of the SDF and backed up by the Turkish army. The SDF is comprised of a Kurdish majority and a minority of Arab fighters mostly from different units of FSA and defected members of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra that are all called as moderate militants by the US, Turkey and their allies.
The Kurdish units of the SDF have long been complaining that they are fighting on the frontline and, hence, sustain most casualties, and whenever they earn a victory, “the Turkish army sends them to other battle scenes and delivers control over conquered lands to the Arab FSA.
Cavusoglu’s warning that the Turkish military men are readying to attack the Kurds in Manbij came after the militant-affiliated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Wednesday reported some sources in Tal Rifat Military Council as saying that the council would stop its mission under the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation to start battling the Kurdish members of the SDF in Northern Aleppo to capture the villages under their control.
The SOHR further added that the Tal Rifat Military Council that is operating under the FSA is getting back to the region (Northern Aleppo) with its forces and military equipment to start attacking the Kurdish forces in their positions.
In response to the militants’ invasion plan, the Syrian army initiated plans to tighten security measures across the regions stretching from East Aleppo to the Kurdish populated territories in Afrin Canton to block any possible advance by either the ISIL or the Turkish soldiers and their allied militants fighting for the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation.
A top placed military source revealed that the Syrian Army intends to carry out a clean-up operation in the towns of Jubb al-Sultan, al-Za’aroureh, Jubb al-Homam and Jubb al-Khafa and the villages South of Manbij to strengthen its lines of defense along the strip that stretches to the Kurdish-held region in Northeastern Aleppo in order to prevent any effort by the ISIL terrorists to bypass the government-held regions.
Cavusoglu displayed his country’s anger and opposition to the agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian army by denying it, claiming that “there are all sorts of news and speculation. This is all untrue. We are now seeing that the Syrian government forces are moving to the East”.
But the Turkish foreign minister, meantime, stated that Moscow and Ankara agreed on the prevention of clashes between Turkey-backed opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government forces.
“We have agreed with Russia on the prevention of clashes between the [FSA] and the Syrian government forces in order to intensify the fight against ISIL,” Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
But later reports by other world media confirmed FNA’s Thursday report over the agreement.
The villages will be surrendered to the Syrian government in the coming days, an official in the Manbij Military Council told Reuters. An earlier statement by the council said the villages would be handed to Syrian border guards.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said this week Manbij was the next target of Ankara’s campaign in northern Syria following the capture of nearby al-Bab from ISIL last week.
“We will move towards Manbij after the al-Bab operation is completed, but the operation has not started yet. We know that the US special forces are in that region, and we want the YPG to leave Manbij as soon as possible,” Cavusoglu said.
In February 2016, The Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city. YPG constitutes the Kurdish section of the SDF that also includes the Turkey-backed Arab FSA militants.
But months later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Kurdish fighters to leave all areas under their control in Northwestern Syria and move to the territories on the Eastern side of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates.
The Kurdish population lives in three regions, known as Cantons, in Northern Syria, with the Afrin Canton being located on the Western side of the Euphrates stretching over the Northern parts of Aleppo province with Manbij as its most important and most internationally known town.
The Kurdish fighters won back Manbij from ISIL in weeks of bloody war on August 8, 2016. A few months later, the Turkish president warned the Kurds to withdraw from the town and surrender it to the Turkish army or wait for a massive attack.
In mid-November 2016, Spokesman for the Manbij Military Council Sherfan Dervish voiced his forces’ readiness to fight against the ISIL terrorists and Turkish army in Aleppo province in Northern Syria.
“The Manbij military council is ready to repel any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey,” Dervish told FNA at the time.
He noted that the SDF’s mission in Manbij ended as per an agreement signed by the two sides, adding that the SDF forces returned to their previous positions.
“The armed groups present in Manbij now are all under the auspices of the Manbij military council because the council can thwart any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey and combat aggressors to maintain stability and security in the city,” Dervish added.
In early August, the SDF pushed ISIL back from the entire neighborhoods of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after over 70 days of non-stop bloody clashes with the terrorists.
Also in August, the Military Council of Manbij in Aleppo province announced that over 4,000 terrorists had been killed in tough battle with the SDF since the beginning of Manbij liberation operations.
“A sum of 4,180 terrorists have been killed in the battle over Manbij and the dead bodies of 1,724 of them are with the Kurdish forces,” the military council said.
The council said that 112 ISIL terrorists were in custody of the Kurdish forces and 144 different kinds of military vehicles had also been destroyed in Manbij battle.
In late August, a Turkish-backed terrorist ringleader said that his militants intended to head towards Manbij to take the city from the Kurdish forces who could drive out the ISIL in early August.
Colonel Ahmed Osman, the commander of Sultan Murad terrorist group, told the Arabic service of Reuters that the Turkey-backed forces were “certainly heading towards Manbij” since the SDF had fortified their positions instead of evacuating the strategic city.
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