Following an apparent chemical attack against innocent civilians by President Assad’s regime and the US missile strike in response to it on Friday, Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s support for the military operations against military targets in Syria. On Thursday US President Trump ordered a massive military strike on a Syrian air base and the Saudi Ministry described this action as “a corageous decision” after the failure of the international community to stop Syrian regime. Moreover Bahrain also expressed support to the military US response, saying that the action was necessary to save the lives of Syrian people.
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.
An advance by the Assad regime forces against Daesh in northern Syria has opened a new link between regime-held areas in western Syria and the country’s northeast held by YPG-dominated and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), redrawing the map of the conflict near the Turkish border. The advance, if sustained, could open a trade lifeline between the northeast, which holds 70 percent of Syria’s oil and also includes rich farmland, and the west, where Syria’s manufacturing and most of its population are based. The regime advance has begun just south of the town of al-Bab and has pushed forward into the territory expanding northwards, where Turkish forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are currently waging Operation Euphrates Shield, which aims to carve out a buffer zone to keep Daesh and PKK-affiliated groups away from the Turkish border. Regime government forces have now come to the edge of a swathe of territory controlled by the SDF, which has mostly avoided conflict with Damascus but is viewed by Turkey as an extension of the PKK terrorist group that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish territory. The YPG, which is the armed wing of PKK’s Syrian offshoot PYD, is the dominating force within the SDF. The YPG’s critics have accused it of cooperating with Damascus in the Syrian civil war. The spokesman for the SDF militia alliance said the regime army’s advance would bring benefits to civilians in the area. “On the trade front and on the civilian front it is seen as an excellent thing, because now there is a link between the entire northern rural area”. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the regime advance in the area is part of a bid to block Turkish-backed forces from expanding their zones of control in Aleppo province.
All the armed Syrian opposition factions in the besieged districts of opposition-held eastern Aleppo have decided to dissolve their individual organisations, and will now instead reform as a newly created “Army of Aleppo”, opposition forces have declared. Although the opposition has previously united their command structures, notably leading to a brief breaking of the regime’s siege on eastern Aleppo, this is the first time that they have completely unified as a single entity. Meanwhile, the President of the Aleppo local council issued calls pleading for the Syrian regime assault to pause and for a corridor to be created to allow civilians wishing to flee the violence in Syria’s largest city safe passage.