US special forces in Syria with insignia of the Kurdish YPG. Photo: AFP
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MANBIJ – Militants of the Islamic State (ISIS) launched on Monday an offensive on the western countryside of Manbij city, in northern Syria, bombing a security checkpoint for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The group said in a statement, released by the jihadi Amaq Agency, that nine Kurdish fighters and an American volunteer were killed in the attack.
In the meantime, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) –a leading member of the SDF– said they repelled the ISIS attack after destroying two ISIS vehicles and killing over a dozen of militants near the Ilan town west of Manbij.
“Our units foiled an ISIS attempt to infiltrate into the Ilan town on Monday,” the YPG officer S. Mirkhan told ARA News in Manbij.
The Kurdish official denied ISIS claims of killing an American member of the YPG, saying that two Kurdish fighters lost their lives and four others were wounded in the attack.
The ISIS radical group launched the offensive in a bid to regain positions near Manbij city, less than two months after losing the area to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
This comes one month after the Turkish army and allied rebel groups launched the Euphrates Shields operation and took Jarablus city, north of Manbij. Turkey then demanded the Kurdish factions of the SDF to withdraw from Manbij and its countryside.
“The Turkish intervention in Syria has paved the way for ISIS to return to the area and attack the countryside of Manbij,” Mirkhan said. “Our forces, in cooperation with the US-led coalition, have liberated Manbij from ISIS. Despite the Turkish threats, we reassure the people of Manbij that we won’t allow the ISIS terrorists to regain their positions there.”
The US-led coalition has started to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in the Syrian city of Manbij, a coalition spokesman said. This aid comes after the local council in Manbij requested immediate support.
“In continuing to provide humanitarian assistance to Manbij, the coalition is facilitating the delivery of more than 200 metric tons of food that will be provided to about 2,400 families through the Manbij Organization for Relief and Development,” the coalition’s spokesman Colonel John Dorrian.
“The food includes essentials such as rice, flour, chickpeas, and tomato paste, baby formula and water purifying tablets. In some cases, this means families will get anywhere from 30 to 60 days of food and supplies. In addition, the coalition is providing training to remove many of the explosive remnants of war that Daesh typically leave behind once they’ve been driven from an area,” he added, using another acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS).
The city of Manbij was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in early August, but the local Manbij council has struggled to feed the civilian population. Although the SDF have received material support, there has been almost no humanitarian aid either to Kobane or Manbij–two major Syrian cities, scared by fighting between the SDF and ISIS.
The Manbij Organization for Relief and Development, established In June, has provided food and medicines to Manbij civilians without support from third parties. Last week, they asked for international support.
In addition to hunger, Manbij residents also have to cope with landmines which were planted by ISIS. The city is still full of improvised explosive devices, which have killed at least three school children.
Reporting by: Enwer Omar
Source: ARA News