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U.S., Russian Militaries Jointly Keep Turks from Attacking the Kurds in Manbij

March 8, 2017 (EIRNS)—A replay of U.S. and Soviet troops meeting on the Elbe at the conclusion of World War II? The Times of London illustrates its coverage of U.S. and Russian troops in Manbij, Syria, with that very image, noting that this is the closest cooperation on the battlefield between Moscow and Washington since World War II. No such encounter as the Elbe handshake has actually occurred, but the Russians and the Americans are only five miles apart, patrolling villages to the west of Manbij in order to keep Turkish and Turkish-backed FSA forces from attacking Kurdish militias in the city, as the Turkish government has repeatedly threatened to do, but which both Moscow and Washington have been seeking to prevent. With the U.S.-Russian presence outside the city, the Turks seem to be backing down. It "makes no sense to launch an operation in Manbij without the co-operation of Russia and the United States," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirm said after the tripartite meeting between the military chiefs of the U.S., Turkey, and Russia in Antalya, Turkey, yesterday. A Pentagon official said, yesterday, that the U.S. troops are in Manbij to "reassure and deter."

The Russians, who brought relief supplies for the local population with them, are embedded with Syrian army forces who have liberated most of the territory between the Kuweires air base outside of Aleppo city and the Euphrates River and south of Al Bab and Manbij. Syrian troops are reportedly not in Manbij, itself, but are patrolling areas to the west and south.