Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) engaged in clashes with ISIS militants in Manbij. Photo: ARA News
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MANBIJ – The Manbij Military Council said on Monday that the Islamic State group (ISIS) tried to break the siege on Manbij city, by attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from another frontline, military sources reported.
ISIS fighters on Monday morning attacked forces of the SDF from the side of al-Bab, Jarabulus and the village of Arima. The clashes continued until the afternoon, and were repelled by the SDF forces, costing ISIS many losses in lives and material.
Speaking to ARA News, Heval Shiyar, a local commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said that al-Bab is the only city from where ISIS can operate freely and reach the Turkish border from Raqqa.
The operation to capture Manbij city has been slowed down in an attempt by the SDF troops to avoid civilians casualties.
“We can enter the city of Manbij easily, but the only obstacle for us is civilians. We have helped 7,000 to 8,000 people to escape the city,” Shiyar told ARA News on the Manbij frontlines. “That’s why the operation goes slowly towards the city.”
“We have information from local sources that the city is full of civilians, that’s why any movement will hurt them,” he added.
So far, SDF fighters have entered the suburbs near the western entrance of Manbij, and the fighting is continuing.
According to the US-led coalition, they have carried out 10 air strikes on 19 June, destroying six ISIS tactical units and five ISIS fighting positions.
“Manbij will be a big test. It will be one of the most strategic blows to ISIL [ISIS] yet because it is their hub of foreign fighters,” American anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk said last week.
“It is their main kind of access route from Raqqa. And so I suspect they will fight for it. But we feel pretty good about the plan — not only the military plan, but importantly the post-ISIL plan,” the envoy added.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News