Building of the ISIS-linked Islamic Police in the northern Syrian city of Manbij. File photo

ARA News 

MANBIJ – A spokesman for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) told ARA News on Friday that they did not stop airstrikes inside the Syrian border city of Manbij.

After the notable gains by the western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbij over the past two months, the ISIS militants now only control 5 per cent of the city.

Cuhaid, 43, a fighter of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told ARA News that it’s difficult to hit the last positions of ISIS inside the city. “We don’t shoot at them, and the airstrikes don’t hit them, because they [ISIS] use the people like a shield to impede our advance,” he said. “Because the ISIS-held area is very small, so we just fight by guns.”

However, a spokesman for the US-led coalition said that airstrikes haven’t stopped in Manbij city.

“We have not stopped striking the city. We still apply our controls for avoiding civilian casualties, so as the fighting gets closer in to the city, the more careful we may be about particular strikes,” coalition spokesman Colonel Chris Garver told ARA News. 

The US coalition said that on Wednesday 15 airstrikes hit ISIS units. “Near Manbij, 15 strikes struck 14 separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions, six ISIL vehicles, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and an ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive device,” the coalition said, using another acronym for ISIS.

According to SDF sources over 200 ISIS fighters were killed since Wednesday in attempts to break the siege on Manbij.

Moreover, Salih Muslim, the co-head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (PYD) told ARA News on Thursday that the news reports that claim civilians were killed in US-led coalition airstrikes in Manbij “are not true”.

“Those are merely rumours, because the airstrikes are very careful to not hurt any civilians. Some parties spread such rumours in a bid to slow down these airstrikes, or to stop them,” the PYD head said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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