US Commander: Retaking Manbij will set the stage for attack on ISIS-capital Raqqa

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Militant fighters of the Islamic State in Manbij, Syria. File photo

ARA News 

MANBIJ – Coalition Commander Army Lt. Gen. Sean McFarland said on Wednesday that soon ISIS will be finished in the Syrian border city of Manbij, and that this will set the stage for taking Raqqa [the de facto capital of the Islamic State], reported the official website of the US Department of Defence.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made progress by pushing out ISIS from Shaddadi, Hasakah, and Tishreen. “And soon [the SDF] will finish the fight in the important city of Manbij,” he said.

Retaking Manbij will set the stage for the eventual attack to seize Raqqa,according to McFarland, who stressed that retaking ISIS-controlled Raqqa will “mark the beginning of the end for [ISIS] in Syria.” 

“During these operations, [US-led] coalition aircraft have conducted about 50,000 sorties against [ISIS] in the past year,” he said. “During those sorties we’ve dropped more than 30,000 munitions on the enemy with approximately two-thirds of those in Iraq and about one-third in Syria. Our artillery has conducted more than 700 fire missions.” 

The American commander estimated that in the past 11 months, 25,000 ISIS fighters have been killed, added to the 20,000 estimated killed prior to his arrival.

Nevertheless, McFarland said that a territorial defeat of ISIS will not be the end of the group. 

“Military success in Iraq and Syria will not necessarily mean the end of [ISIS],” he said. “We can expect the enemy to adapt, to morph into a true insurgent force and terrorist organization capable of horrific attacks like the one here on July 3 in Baghdad and those others we’ve seen around the world.”

Speaking to ARA News, Ziyad Sinjar (31), a former prisoner of ISIS, said that the radical group “will not be finished soon”.

“They might be finished in Raqqa and in Syria, but their ideology not, and they will go to other countries,” he said. 

He spent more than six months in ISIS prisons in al-Bab, Manbij, and Aleppo.

“They will travel to other countries in the Middle East and Africa. They have their ideology spread among children and they can carry weapons,” he added.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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