SDF launch battle to liberate Manbij from ISIS: city council

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Kurdish fighters of the SDF seen during clashes with ISIS. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

KOBANE – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Tuesday launched an operation to capture Manbij and it’s countryside from the extremist group of Islamic State (ISIS). The newly established city council of Manbij released a statement on Wednesday suggesting that the liberation is near. 

“To our resistant people in the city of Manbij, we and by the name of the city council of Manbij and its countryside, we appeal to our people inside the city who are fleeing from the city, and we say to you: you are the sons of this country, don’t leave your city, the mercenaries [ISIS] that came from all over the world should leave,” said the council, which was established in early April under the sponsorship of the SDF. 

“We are coming to you and liberation is near, our hero’s [SDF] are very nearby Manbij to liberate our people from the persecution of the mercenary groups and we promise you that we will turn the black page that we lived for years, and God willing we build hand by hand the good future of our city,” the statement said.

Speaking to ARA News, Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security Nicholas Heras said: “The messaging in this statement is a clear rebuttal to ISIS’ narrative that the SDF army that is gathering to seize Manbij is a bloodthirsty, godless PKK occupation force.”

“The Manbij council’s statement wants to reassure the local population that it has a plan in place that will be able to distinguish the real occupiers, i.e. ISIS, from the true local residents of Manbij who are suffering under ISIS,” he said.

“The messaging is positive and focuses on building a better future after ISIS, and it seeks to convince the local population that the Manbij council is competent and has a strategy in place to govern effectively post-ISIS,” Heras added.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition, which backs the SDF in its war on ISIS, told ARA News in an earlier interview that for the US “it’s critical that the ISIS-held Manbij pocket of 98-kilometers” is seized from the radical group.

“As to why the Manbij pocket is important, it represents a major border crossing point where foreign fighters can cross into Syria from Turkey,” said Colonel Christopher Garver, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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