At least 5 Turkey-backed rebels defect to SDF’s Manbij Military Council

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Pro-Turkey Syrian rebel fighters of the Euphrates Shield Brigades. File photo

ARA News

A Kurdish official of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that five rebels defected from the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield campaign and joined the SDF-led Manbij Military Council (MMC).

“5 militants have left Euphrates Shield and joined the MMC, after latest statement by the council that called for joining their city’s defending forces,” SDF spokesperson Shervan Derwish said.

The defection comes after Turkey declared ending the Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria.

Two weeks ago the Manbij Military Council released a statement calling on the Turkey-backed rebels to join the Manbij Military Council (MMC) to defend Manbij city and northern Aleppo region.

“MMC issues statement: calling all sons of Manbij area, including in Euphrates Shield to come back to their homes, join forces defending their city,” it said.

The Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield operation was launched by the Turkish army and Syrian rebels in August 2016 with the aim to clear the border from ISIS, and to prevent the Kurds from uniting their cantons in northern Syria.

Last week, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey ended its seven-month-old campaign, but he did not rule out new military operations.

However, it’s unlikely that the Turkish army leaves northern Aleppo, since in that case the rebels would be too weak to defend themselves against the SDF, Assad’s Syrian army, or ISIS.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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