US-led coalition: Syrian Democratic Forces make substantial gains in anti-ISIS campaign

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) engaged in clashes with ISIS militants in Manbij. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

QAMISHLI – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made substantial gains in the southern parts of Manbij city in northern Syria after heavy fighting with ISIS, the US-led coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.

“[The SDF] made substantial gains in the southern area of Manbij City in an ongoing effort to liberate it from Da’esh’s control,” the coalition said. 

“They have successfully seized silos south of Manbij City. Control of this key terrain provides significant observational views of the city,” the coalition added.

The US-led coalition also said the Syrian Democratic Forces have strengthened their position in southwestern Manbij “building by building”. “They continue to clear improvised explosive devices within homes and fighting positions which Da’esh used to slow [the SDF] advances,” the coalition said, using an arabic abbreviation for ISIS. 

The coalition has conducted 325 airstrikes near Manbij since May 21st, including 29 strikes in the last four days, resulting in the destruction of multiple ISIS fighting positions, vehicles, and fortifications.

According to the anti-ISIS coalition, the support for the SDF forces in Manbij continues to weaken the threat of ISIS to Turkey, Europe, and the United States.

Speaking to ARA News, Nicholas Heras, a Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security, said that the Manbij operation will however not finish the ISIS threat completely, even if ISIS is finished in Raqqa. 

“That is too hopeful an analysis. ISIS has a well-established network of operatives in Turkey and Europe. These operatives will continue to be a threat to key U.S. partners in Europe and its NATO ally Turkey,” he said.

“Manbij is significant to ISIS as a key line of reinforcement into the core, would-be Caliphate,” Heras told ARA News.

“If the Coalition succeeds in capturing Manbij, and then builds on that success to seize Raqqa, then it would have dealt a blow to ISIS’ propaganda efforts which help it position itself as the most powerful actor in the global Salafist jihadist movement,” he said. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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