Dec. 23 (UPI) — Turkey deployed hundreds of troops near a Kurdish stronghold in Syria Sunday, in the wake of the United States announcing plans to withdraw from the country.
A Turkish military column including trucks and armored personnel carriers as well as other carriers with armored vehicles, other material and ammunition entered the countryside of the Manbij area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The Syrian Observatory monitored the raise of military preparations by the forces of Manbij Military Council, in anticipation for any military operations or offensives that are expected to be carried out the Turkish forces in the area which is located in the west of the Euphrates River,” the observatory said.
The influx of Turkish military forces came after the U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. military was preparing for a full withdrawal from Syria, pulling about about 2,000 service members from the country.
“We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade,” Trump wrote.
Turkish media said the additional forces were sent to areas where the country had already established influence through a previous military operation called the Euphrates Shield and that the U.S. had already pulled out all of the 300 to 400 soldiers it had in Manbij while Kurdish forces remained in their positions, Bloomberg reported.
Manbij had been a source of tension between the United States and Turkey after the Turkish government accused Washington D.C., of stalling an agreement to push out Kurdish forces.
Turkey had since made multiple attempts to capture the region, but U.S. troops in the area provided an obstacle.