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Turkey prepares to take over anti-IS fight in Syria from US

Turkey prepares to take over anti-IS fight in Syria from US

Mr Trump's decision has emboldened Turkey to press ahead with plans to clear Manbij of Kurdish forces.

They are also trying to convince other Western countries to fill the vacuum when Washington withdraws some 2,000 troops whose presence in northern and eastern Syria has deterred Turkey so far.

"The execute order for Syria has been signed", a US defense official confirmed to VOA, adding, "I am not going to provide more operational details at this time".

Turkey wants to fill the power vacuum that will be left in Syria by the withdrawal of American troops, and is coordinating its army's plans with the USA and Russian Federation.

Manbij was seized in 2016 from ISIS by Syrian militia allied to the SDF, which controls roughly a quarter of Syria.

The United States has also told the U.N. Security Council that it is committed to the "permanent destruction" of ISIS and would keep pushing for the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces in the country.

On July 15, the top American Air Force general in Europe warned that the Turkish government's plan to purchase Russian S-400 systems would give the advanced air defense shield deep insight into the U.S. radar-evading F-35 fighter jets.

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Turkish officials have previously said Ankara has no territorial ambitions in Syria. Videos posted on social media networks showed armoured vehicles stationed in the town.

"We are in final preparations for the battle of Manbij, then (the battle) east of the Euphrates" river, the group's spokesman Yussef Hammud said on Wednesday.

The SOHR said that Turkey has instructed its rebel allies to temporarily hold-off on launching a planned attack.

"Obviously, that should be the Syrian government, in accordance with worldwide law and considering the path that Syria and the Syrian people have travelled down", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a press conference in Moscow.

The Kurdish-led SDF is the ground force that has swept through ISIS territory, from clearing small villages and evacuating citizens to engaging in intense urban combat as ISIS fighters used booby traps and tunnels to slow down their foes. The SOHR says clashes have intensified since Tuesday evening. "Obviously, that should be the Syrian government, in accordance with worldwide law and considering the path that Syria and the Syrian people have travelled down", Zakharova pointed out. Critics say thousands of IS members are still in Syria and could pose a threat with some analysts concerned the withdrawal could lead to a resurgence of IS. The SDF, with USA support, has been fighting against ISIS for three years already. The YPG/PKK left the control of the town to regime forces.

"Patrols by the (international) coalition are still taking place - nothing has changed". French ministers said in the aftermath of Trump's announcement that the fight against IS continued as the group had not been fully eliminated from the region.

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