Photos of Syrian troops deployed to Manbij in northern Syria have begun to appear on several news agency sites, the Diken news website reported on Monday, citing the Sputnik French service.
The Syrian army has released to Sputnik pictures of Syrian flags hung on buildings reportedly located in the northern and western ends of the Manbij zone.
The reports came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed rumors of the Syrian army’s recapture of the town as a psychological operation. The United States had denied the claims on Friday as well.
“Despite incorrect information about changes to military forces in the city of Manbij, Syria, CJTFOIR has seen no indication that these claims are true We call on everyone to respect the integrity of Manbij and the safety of its citizens,” said a statement posted on the official Twitter account of the International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve, the military coalition to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
A source from within the Syrian army revealed to the Russian news agency that their objective was to prevent Turkish forces from advancing into Manbij.
Operation Euphrates Shield was launched by the Turkish armed forces along with rebel forces from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in August 2016 against ISIL in the Syrian border town of Jarablus.
Since 2016, the town of Manbij has been controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), supported by the US and its allies.
Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group and a threat to its territory.
After US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syrian territory, the YPG had invited the Syrian army to retake control of Manbij, in the face of threats from Erdoğan to launch a military offensive against the YPG forces in the town.