Syria takes over key Kurdish-held town -- after Kurds asked it to

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The meeting will be the latest step in the Astana peace process - set up in early 2017 by Russian Federation and Iran, who support President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, and opposition backer Turkey. With the YPG at its forefront, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) seized Manbij in 2016 from ISIS, a milestone in the US-backed battle against the militants. Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group.

"We invite the Syrian government forces to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion", the YPG statement said.

"We are against dividing Syria, our goal is to have terrorists out of there".

A senior Syrian Kurdish official says Syrian government troops have arrived at the front lines of the flash-point town of Manbij but have not taken over the city, and US troops based outside it have not withdrawn.

Critics decried his decision to remove the 2,000 USA troops in Syria, saying that would leave the Kurds vulnerable to a Turkish attack and that pulling out the American troops would show the US isn't a reliable partner.

"The aim is to ward off a Turkish offensive", Ahmed said.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the troops had deployed only along the edges of Manbij, standing between the town and Turkey's rebel allies. He said Turkey's military was continuing its preparations. The French, after all, knew their bases were vulnerable without the United States, and similarly must've assumed Turkey knew that as well.

The consequences of President Trump's surprise announcement to withdraw all USA troops from Syria are now being seen on the ground.

"Considering the obligations of the army to respond to the call by the people of Manbij, the General Staff declares that the army has entered Manbij and raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic there", the statement read as cited by the Syrian state broadcaster.

"Of course, this will help in stabilising the situation". But sources from Manbij told TRT World the city is calm and that regime forces have not entered.

The Syrian government has said it welcomes the Kurdish group returning under its authority. Foreign ministers, intelligence, and defence ministers will discuss the situation from all angles there. The talks will allow the two sides to "bring complete clarity and synchronise actions" going forward, Mr Peskov said.

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