Once the Americans have left Manbij, Russian forces will replace them. Under an agreement with Russia, immediately after the American forces leave Manbij, Russian forces will take charge of defending the city, a member of the Manbij Military Council (an alliance of armed groups affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces) told Al-Monitor.
“Two days ago, Russian commanders told us that if the Americans left this region today, they would immediately deploy their forces in the area separating Manbij from the region under Turkish control,” Mohammed Mustafa told the Al-Monitor information site.
This element of the Manbij Military Council, nicknamed Abu Adel, believes that this change of role could be done without major difficulty, “given that there is only a five-minute drive between the positions of the American and Russian forces”.
On 21 January 2019, an American military convoy escorted by Kurdish forces was the target of a terrorist attack that killed five Kurdish paramilitaries. Earlier on January 16, an American military patrol in downtown Manbij was targeted; 10 civilians and 5 local paramilitaries, plus 4 Americans (2 Pentagon soldiers and 2 members of a private military company) were killed. This terrorist attack occurred just days after US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw US troops from Syria.