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Russian forces will defend Manbij 'the minute Americans leave'

The Manbij Military Council and Russian commanders have made a verbal agreement over who will defend Manbij when the United States leaves, and Turkey is not part of the equation.
A member of Manbij Military Council gestures at a car in Manbij city, Syria December 29, 2018. Picture taken December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RC1EFBFDDC70
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MANBIJ, Syria — Russian forces will defend the contested majority-Arab town of Manbij in northern Syria against Turkey if and when US forces withdraw under the terms of a verbal agreement struck two days ago between Russian commanders and the Manbij Military Council, Al-Monitor has learned.

Speaking exclusively to Al-Monitor at the military council’s headquarters in northern Syria on March 11, the body’s co-chair Mohamed Mustafa said, “Russian commanders told us exactly two days ago that the minute the Americans leave they will deploy their forces along the demarcation line [separating Manbij and the Turkish-controlled Euphrates Shield zone]. They said, 'If the US leaves tomorrow, we will take their place.'”

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