Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces. File photo
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ALEPPO – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made more advances against ISIS extremist group in the Syrian border city of Manbij, and now control over 80 per cent of the city.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces made progress in Manbij over the last several days, seeing gains toward the center of the city on the eastern and southern flanks,” spokesman of the US-led coalition Colonel Christopher Garver said. “More than half [of Manbij] has been recovered.”
“We’ve also seen several hundred civilians fleeing Manbij make it safely out of the city,” the spokesman said. “This remains a very tough and deliberate fight, as the SDF clears the city house by house and room by room, while working to avoid civilian casualties.”
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was able to liberate the al-Hal market and the Sinaa district in the city on Thursday, and moved towards the al-Thor school and al-Tal district–which were taken from ISIS after heavy clashes.
The al-Thor school was previously used by the SDF senior commander Faysal Abu Layla who was killed in the beginning of June in the fighting against ISIS. Also, the house of the SDF spokesman Sharvan Darwish in al Tal district in Manbij was recaptured from ISIS militants on Thursday.
Furthermore, the SDF-led Manbij Military Council was able to free nearly 1,500 civilians from ISIS.
“I left Manbij together with my children, my father and my brothers and headed to Kobane three years ago, escaping oppression of terrorism,” said Sharvan Darwish. “Ethnic cleansing and forced displacement was imposed on us.”
“The memories of my neighborhood and house, where I spent my life, resisting tyranny and terrorism, have never left me,” he said. “But we did not lose our spirit to return victorious over evil,” he said. Abu Layla Faysal, who was killed in June, told Darwish that one day they would return to Manbij with their children. “Building a nation ensuring our children’s safety and peace was our biggest dream, and finally we were able to see my house and neighbourhood again.”
In the meanwhile, heavy fighting is continuing inside the city of Manbij.
“Daesh has mounted several localized counter attacks both in the city fighting outward, and outside the [SDF] forces isolating Manbij fighting inward,” Garver said, using another acronym for ISIS.
“Those attacks have been repeatedly blunted by the SDF forces. We also continue to see Daesh’s tactics of snipers in the Minarets of mosques, machine guns and IEDs used as counter-mobility mines,” the US spokesman said.
The US-led coalition has carried out a total of 602 airstrikes in support of the Manbij operation. “We will continue to do what we can to maintain that momentum,” Garver said.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg and Jan Mohammed
Source: ARA News