Turkish-backed fighters said Monday they are preparing to move into eastern Syria alongside Turkish troops once American forces withdraw and are already massing on the front line of a town held by Kurdish-led forces.
The U.S. pullout will leave the oil-rich eastern third of Syria up for grabs. It is currently controlled by Kurdish-led forces that the Americans have backed over the past four years, with multiple parties seeking to move in. They now face a triple threat from the Syrian government, IS and Turkey, which views them as terrorists because of their links to a Kurdish insurgent group inside Turkey.
Youssef Hammoud, spokesman for Turkey-backed Syrian opposition groups, said they have up to 15,000 trained fighters ready to deploy alongside Turkish forces, and they are already preparing to move into Manbij — a Kurdish-administered town in northern Syria where U.S. troops are based.
Hammoud said there is “no alternative” to Turkish forces and their allies replacing U.S troops.