Manbij declares new administration in much-contested city

Manbij Democratic Civil Administration meeting on 12 Sunday 2017, (Photo: ANHA)

A new administration has been declared in Syria’s much-contested city Manbij, reports suggest.

An election took place on Sunday in the Manbij Democratic Civil Administration building during which the co-leaders of 13 committees were elected and ratified by the Administrative Council, local news agency ANHA reported

According to Sputnik Turkey the new administration will be formed of 71 Arabs, 43 Kurds, 10 Turkmen, 8 Circassians, 1 Armenian and 1 Chechen.

Co-leaders of the committees of the Manbij administration

Committees have been formed in the areas of foreign relations, health, women, defence and security, culture and arts, municipalities, social work, economy, youth and sports, education and services.

The autonomous administration in Rojava is headed by the Syrian Democratic Council, which includes the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM).

Several forces recently converged around Manbij, including Syrian government forces and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army groups.

The city has been held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since being captured from the Islamic State in August 2016. However Turkey is hostile to the Kurdish group because it views it as a front for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a popular force it says is allied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ankara has claimed that Arab residents are being driven from the city and the demographics of the region being changed by the SDF, however these claims have been rejected by both military and civilian leaders.

US and Russian intervention to the west of Manbij has prevented clashes from escalating as Turkey insists it will attack Manbij if the YPG/SDF remain in the city.

Manbij is 85km to Aleppo to the south, 40km to Jarablus to the north, 65km to Kobani to the east and 45km to al-Bab to the west; meaning it has strategic importance for the conflict in Syria.