A small unit of U.S. troops moved into Manbij, Syria, on March 4 to reportedly block any conflict between Kurdish forces, which are supported by the U.S., and Turkey-backed rebels (video below).
U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis told journalists on March 6: "We have made visible actions in deploying U.S. forces as part of the coalition in and around Manbij to reassure and deter, and that is to deter parties from attacking any other parties other than ISIS itself," notes Sputnik News.
Sharfan Darwish, the spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, told Reuters that the Syrian government has taken over positions in the northern city that was held by a U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Manbij Military Council is part of the SDF, which took the area back from ISIS in 2016.
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The Manbij Military Council also includes the Kurdish YPG group, which is opposed by Turkish-backed rebels. The rebels have been fighting the Manbij Military Council because Turkey sees the YPG as part of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which opposes the Turkish government.
Davis also said of the U.S. troops: "It's a visible reminder, for anybody who's looking to start a fight, that the only fight that should be going on right now is with ISIS," notes The Associated Press.
Davis was asked if this was a new mission, and said, "It is, absolutely."
He insisted that the presence of U.S. troops was temporary, and added that it was to "reassure that ISIS has been driven from Manbij."
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"Manbij is liberated and there's not a need for further fighting there," Davis stated.
The Turkish government reportedly believes the Kurdish rebels are still in Manbij, and plans to get them out, even if that requires force.
"We're concerned about anybody who views Manbij as needing to be liberated," Davis stated. "I'll let you draw your conclusions."
Davis did not give a number for the U.S. troops, but said there are fewer than "dozens."
Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who commands U.S. and coalition forces in Syria and Iraq, said on March 1 that Syrian government forces were in "essentially rifle-range or hand-grenade range" of the U.S.-backed Syrian Arab Coalition forces.
"It's very difficult and very complicated," Townsend added.
President Donald Trump, who once said the U.S. should "bomb the hell out of ISIS," is working with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on options for fighting ISIS in Syria.