Mon, Mar 06, 2017 - Page 4 News List

More US troops added to crowded Syrian battlefield

NY Times News Service, WASHINGTON

The US has increased its forces near the northern Syrian town of Manbij as concerns have grown that fighting could erupt among the complex array of militias and Syrian and Turkish troops operating on the crowded battlefield near there.

Photographs of US troops in Stryker vehicles and armored Humvees flying US flags circulated on Saturday on social media.

The US-led command that is fighting the Islamic State group, acknowledged the buildup, but did not provide details.

“The coalition has increased its force presence in and around Manbij to deter any hostile action against the city and its civilians, to enhance local governance and to ensure there is no persistent YPG presence,” a military spokesman said, using the acronym for the People’s Protection Units, Kurdish militia groups that have been trained by US military advisers.

The Turks have repeatedly complained that YPG fighters, who played a critical role in taking Manbij, have yet to vacate the city, despite US assurances that it has done so.

“This is a deliberate action to reassure our coalition members and partner forces, deter aggression, and ensure all parties remain focused on defeating our common enemy,” the US spokesman said.

US military officials said the total number of US forces had not increased, but the new deployment of troops around Manbij has been done in a visible manner.

In related news, a total of 66,000 people have been displaced by fighting along two fronts in Syria’s north, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said yesterday.

“This includes nearly 40,000 people from al-Bab city and nearby Taduf town, as well as 26,000 people from ... the east of al-Bab,” the office said.

Additional reporting by AFP

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