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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

US armored column at Manbij to block Russians

The Pentagon announced Tuesday, March 6, that a US armored convoy was deployed around the disputed northern Syrian town of Manbij, and in an unusual move, released a video depicting the convoy and its men.
A US military spokesman tweeted that the US deployment was a deliberate action taken to assure that forces within the US-led coalition deterred aggression and kept the focus on defeating ISIS.

Affirming that the US-led coalition was aware of the location of Russian-backed Syrian forces, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters Monday.

"They are certainly aware of where we are, and we are aware of where they are. There is no intention between the two of there being any conflict against any party other than ISIS.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US armored force landed in the middle of a complicated crisis around the important town of Manjib, ever since a mixed Kurdish-Syrian Arab force captured it from ISIS last year with US air and military support.

A few days ago, the Kurdish YPG militia handed over some of the villages and military positions around the town to Russian and Syrian army units, as we revealed in an article (Monday, March 5) on ramped-up Russian-Iranian military cooperation in Syria, in the absence of American moves.

But now, as Russian units geared up to enter Manjib, the Trump administration warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if they did move in, they would face American forces.

The Trump administration has thus taken its first direct military action in Syria to cut off the expansion of Russian forces in the North.

Our military sources reveal that the Russian units assigned to Manjib consist mainly of a Chechen commando brigade brought over by Moscow three months ago.

Our sources added:  Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu while he was being questioned by the police at his residence. That call almost certainly dealt with the possibility of a US-Russian military clash in Manjib, two days before Netanyahu sets out of Moscow for talks with the Russian president.