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Observatory: ISIS ‘Almost Completely’ Ousted from Syria’s Manbij | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An SDF fighter inspects the damage from a mortar shell that belonged to ISIS terrorists, in the southern rural area of Manbij, in Aleppo Governorate in Syria, May 31. (Reuters/Rodi Said)

The Syrian Democratic Forces – a coalition of Arab and Kurd fighters- on Saturday seized the ISIS stronghold of Manbij, two months after launching an operation to capture the strategic city in northern Syria, a monitor said.

SDF, which includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia and Arab fighters, took “almost complete control” of Manbij and is combing the city in search of the last remaining jihadists, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Backed by air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF launched its offensive to retake Manbij on May 31.

The town had served as a key transit point along the ISIS supply route from the Turkish border to Raqqa, the de facto capital of the terrorist organization.

The SDF first encircled the town in early June and surged into it later that month.

But its assault was slowed by a fierce jihadist fightback using suicide attackers and car bombs.

The official spokesman of the SDF-allied Manbij military council, Sharfan Darwish, told Reuters that battles were continuing but that around 90 percent of the city had now been cleared of ISIS.

Pockets of militants are still present in the center of the city, the Britain-based Observatory said.

Syria’s conflict first erupted in March 2011 with anti-regime protests but has since evolved into a multi-front war largely dominated by jihadist groups.