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The Kurds' plight is especially painful for U.S. military commanders because the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been America's key ally in defeating Daesh (ISIS) in Syria.The U.S.-Turkish confrontation now moves about 60 miles east to the town of Manbij, which is controlled by the SDF and its U.S. military advisers. Turkey is demanding that the Americans and the Kurds withdraw to east of the Euphrates River. The Turks don't have disciplined forces that could maintain security in Manbij.To understand this complex battle space, it helps to visualize Manbij, a mixed, Kurdish-Arab market town about 30 miles south of the Turkish border. The Turks had demanded that their forces, rather than the SDF, clear the city back in 2016 . U.S. commanders knew that SDF control of Manbij would be a political problem, but they saw no other choice – the same dilemma they faced in 2017 in opting for an SDF assault on Raqqa.
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