The northern Syrian city of Manbij is under the protection of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the PKK’s Syrian affiliate YPG, a YPG-linked militia group announced on Sunday, dismissing Russian claims that the city will be handed over to Assad regime. The statement came after Russian General Staff had claimed last Friday that an agreement was reached between the Assad regime and the YPG for the peaceful transfer of Manbij’s control to the Assad regime forces. “We in the Manbij Military Council confirm again that Manbij and its rural areas are under the protection of the Manbij Military Council and under the care of the international coalition and its protection”, the self-declared ”Manbij military council” of the terrorist-dominated SDF said. Turkey, which launched Operation Euphrates Shield on August 24 to back the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against terrorist groups [including the PYD/YPG and Daesh] alongside its Syrian border, successfully cleared Manbij from Daesh terrorists and declared last week that the next target would be to liberate YPG-controlled Manbij. Turkish Foreign Minister MevlütÇavuşoğlu said on March 2 that Turkey will strike the YPG if the latter does not withdraw from Manbij, which was promised to Turkey several times by the U.S. over the past months. Turkish authorities had welcomed the Russian statement that the Assad regime would take the control of Manbij, with Prime Minister BinaliYıldırım saying that Ankara was content over the regime replacing the PYD in Manbij.