Hamza Division, a member of the Turkey-backed Free Syria Army (FSA), dispatch fighters and armored vehicles to the Manbij border line in Syria's Al-Bab town on December 28, 2018. Photo: Anadolu via AFP/Hisam el Homsi

The US-led military coalition in Syria has pushed back on claims from the Syrian military on Friday that it has entered a Kurdish stronghold in the country’s northeast, saying that US troops are still patrolling the town.

The announcement from the Syrian government said that forces which entered the town of Manbij had raised the national flag, but the US-led coalition reportedly released a statement that it “has seen no indication that these claims are true.”

“We call on everyone to respect the integrity of Manbij and the safety of its citizens,” the coalition added, according to a report from CBS news.

A Kurdish official said that the Syrian forces had arrived at the edge of the town.

US and French troops are stationed in the area as part of a coalition including Kurdish fighters, with bases on the edge of Manbij facing a planned incursion into the territory announced several weeks ago by Turkey. Ankara said that the offensive would be delayed following US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull all US troops out of the country.

The news comes amid speculation that the Kurds in northeastern Syria are working to strike a deal with the Syrian government to protect against the looming attack from Turkish-backed forces.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, called the announcement from the Syrian military a “psychological act.”

“I spoke with my friends, with intelligence, etc, about an hour ago and there is nothing certain at this moment,” Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters in Istanbul.

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