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Syrian Kurdish spokesperson targeted in assassination attempt in Manbij

Shervan Darwish was struck by a landmine on the road between the city and Tishrin Dam
Manbij Military Council's spokesperson Shervan Derwish (2nd-L) gives a press conference in Manbij on 6 June 2018 (AFP)

The spokesperson for the Kurdish-led body that runs the contested northern Syrian city of Manbij survived an assassination attempt on Wednesday, according to local media.

Shervan Derwish, spokesperson for the Manbij Military Council - the administration created by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to run the city - was struck by a landmine while in a car on the road between Manbij and the Tishrin Dam.

No group claimed responsibility. Derwish had previously been targeted in attacks in 2018 and 2019.

Manbij has been a flashpoint city in Syria's north. The only city west of the Euphrates River still controlled by the Kurdish-led group following military operations by Turkey - who view the SDF as an outgrowth of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - Manbij was targeted by Turkey in October 2019, prompting the Syrian government to send troops into the city to bolster the SDF.

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The city has changed hands a number of times since 2011, when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brutal response to anti-government protests erupted into civil war.

Manbij was captured by anti-Assad rebels in 2012. Two years later, it was captured by the Islamic State group who then lost the city to the SDF in 2016.

Since then, Turkey has repeatedly warned that parts of northern Syria in the hands of the SDF - who are dominated by the pro-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - would become a launchpad for terror attacks by Kurdish separatists within Turkey.

While the SDF and YPG used to control vast swathes of northern Syria, Turkey and allied Syrian armed groups have captured much of the territory since 2018.

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