On October 14, units of the Syrian Army started entering areas controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria.
The terms and conditions of the deal made by the SDF and Damascus are yet to be revealed, but government troops already deployed in Tabqah, Tabqah Airport, Tabqah Dam, Ayn Issa and Tal Tamir, and in the Manbij area. Syrian Army troops also moved towards the border town of Kobani. However, the situation there remains unclear. According to pro-Kurdish sources, US troops deployed there have attempted to prevent Syrian troops from entering the town by blocking the Qaraqozak bridge.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper officially stated that the US did not sign up to fight the Turks for the SDF. Nonetheless, this does not mean that Washington would help the SDF in implementation of its deal with Damascus.
The US is not planning to fully withdraw its troops from the country. According to Esper, the US military presence will remain in Syria, especially in al-Tanf. Additionally, there is no timeline for the announced withdrawal of 1,000 troops.
Turkey reacted to the Damascus-SDF deal by increasing its military efforts against the SDF around Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ain. Furthermore, Turkish-led forces launched an advance towards Ain Assa and Manbij, where they clashes with detachments of the Syrian Army. According to pro-Turkish sources, Turkish-backed militants captured a T-55 battle tank belonging to the Syrian Army near Manbij.
The military situation in northeastern Syria may escalate even further if the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed militants continue their advance into the areas where the Syrian Army is already deployed. At the same time, Ankara’s attempts to capture Manbij will likely only strengthen the military and political cooperation between the SDF and Damascus.