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Syrian Army ‘raises flag’ in country’s Kurdish province for 1st time since start of civil war

Damascus says it has deployed troops to the city of Manbij, the focal point of a tense standoff between Kurds and Turkey, as the government continues attempts to reassert control over the strategic border area in Syria’s north.

The Kurdish YPG militia on Friday called on Damascus to secure Manbij, located close to the border with Turkey. Ankara earlier said it plans to conduct an “anti-terrorist operation” around the city, with the YPG being the target.

In response, Damascus said its troops were already in the north and raised the flag in the “area of Manbij.” In a statement from the general staff broadcast by the Syrian media, the top brass said their army was determined to “crush terrorism and defeat all invaders and occupiers” as well as to provide security for all Syrian citizens.

The situation is to be discussed on Saturday by top Turkish and Russian officials at a meeting in Moscow. Russia, a backer of Damascus in its fight against jihadist groups, said the deployment in Manbij may be a good sign that stabilization of Syria is progressing. But a spokesman for the Kremlin indicated that the outcome would depend on how the talks in Moscow unfold.

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