The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on Sunday reported large demonstrations in western Syria against both “Turkish aggression” and the continuing presence of U.S. troops on Syrian soil, a somewhat ironic set of positions given that the U.S. presence was supposedly the only thing preventing Turkish aggression until now.
SANA published photos of demonstrations in Hasaka, Qamishli, and Deir Ezzor that included ample displays of Syrian flags and photos of dictator Bashar Assad.
Russia’s Tass news service reported on Monday that Syrian state flags are appearing over schools and other government buildings in cities across Hasaka and Qamishli that were formerly controlled by Kurdish militias and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Russia intervened with military force in the Syrian civil war to protect Assad and his government. The Tass report cited SANA coverage of Syrian military units moving into the northern part of the country to push back against the Turkish incursion and “protect the civilian population,” which was said to be very happy with the arrival of Syrian troops.
Kurdish leaders reportedly made an agreement with the Assad regime for protection against the Turks, as reported by CNN on Monday:
An autonomous administration set up by the Kurds, which covers a wide swathe of north and east Syria, said Sunday that it was the Syrian government’s duty to protect its borders and sovereignty.
“This agreement offers an opportunity to liberate the rest of the Syrian territories and cities occupied by the Turkish army as Afrin and other Syrian cities and towns,” the statement said.
The group added on Monday that is was in the process of agreeing a “memorandum of understanding” on the protection of the border with the Russian side.
SANA reported Syrian military units arriving in the crucial border town of Manbij, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday would be the next target of his invasion force unless it is “cleared” of “terrorist organizations.”
This was evidently a reference to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey considers an arm of the PKK terrorist organization. A deal with the U.S. that would ostensibly have removed YPG forces from Manbij was never completed.
Syrian officials told Russian media on Monday that Syrian government troops have been invited into the key Kurdish-controlled city of Kobane, and suggested Russian forces could be deployed to Manbij to prevent the Turks from attacking there. As of Monday afternoon, there had been no official confirmation from Moscow of Russian forces moving into Manbij.