Turkey-backed Syrian fighters prepare to replace US forces

Turkey-backed Syrian fighters prepare to replace US forces
This photo released on the Facebook page of the Military Council of Manbij City, shows U.S. troops based around the Syrian town of Manbij speaking with residents, in northern Syria, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (The Military Council of Manbij City via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — A spokesman for Turkish-backed Syrian forces says they are preparing to deploy in eastern Syria alongside Turkish troops once American forces withdraw.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said the withdrawal from Syria will be slow and coordinated with Turkey, without providing a timetable.

A Kurdish-led force captured much of northern and eastern Syria from the Islamic State group with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to an insurgent group inside Turkey.

Youssef Hammoud, of the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces, said Monday “there is no alternative” to U.S. forces except Turkish forces and allied Syrian fighters.

Hammoud said that Syrian fighters and weapons were deployed along the front line with the northern town of Manbij a day earlier.