Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

U.S.-Backed Forces Storm into Manbij…ISIS Burns Down Houses to Cover its Trail | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria carry their weapons as they cheer near the Syrian town of al Houl in Hasaka province, after they took control of the area, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Beirut – U.S.-backed forces seized control of the last route of ISIS-held city of Manbij in northern Syria on Friday, completing their encirclement of the main target in a major advance against the militants, a monitoring group said.

The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by U.S.-led air strikes and American special forces, launched and advanced last week to seize ISIS’s last territory on the Syria-Turkey border and cut the self-declared caliphate off from the world.

ISIS, on the other hand, has resorted to burning down the houses and oil tanks to cover its trail that has become clear to the attacking forces.

SDF – allied Manbij Military Council Spokesperson Sharfan Darwish declared that it is almost done, but the forces are being cautious about entering the city because of civilians being taken hostages by ISIS. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS terrorists can still retreat from the city through corridors on the west side, but it won’t be long before forces enter Manbij.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that SDF has liberated 75 villages and is getting closer to Manbij in Aleppo northeastern countryside.

SOHR announced that since the 31st of May, 190 persons were killed.

Information revealed that battles are still ongoing between Kurdish Forces and ISIS fighters in northeastern countryside. In addition, international coalition continues to raid on ISIS strongholds including al-Shabali town killing one woman and four of her children, while badly injuring her husband.

According to SOHR, the number of civilians killed by international coalition warplanes reached thirty, including eleven children and four women.

Meanwhile, U.S. military spokesman said that Syrian army is still far from U.S.-backed SDF. Syrian army has initiated its operations towards Raqqa, northern Syria.

Army Colonel Christopher Garver said that “we see no imminent danger yet.”

Researcher at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Bashir Abdul Fattah said ISIS is still strong despite defeat and withdrawal from Marea in Aleppo northern countryside.

Abdul Fattah told Asharq Al-Awsat that the terrorist organization includes professional fighters and still receives money, weapons and intel from countries and intelligence services.

Abdul Fattah explained that most attacks on ISIS are in Aleppo due to its importance and strategic location. He explained that the coalition is working on targeting ISIS to respond to all claims that it has achieved nothing recently. Whereas the Kurds, and according to Abdul Fattah, are working on strengthening their strategic role which will entitle them to declare auto governance with the support of USA.

Meanwhile, opposition armed factions continued to advance in Aleppo northern countryside and were able to control new locations.

Speaking to ARA News, armed rebel commander Saleh Zein said that al-Hamza Brigade, Moutasem Billah Battalion, Haraket Nour al-Din al-Zenki, and Sultan Murad troop continued their attack on ISIS sites on several axes in Aleppo northern countryside. He said that during the heavy clashes that led to the liberation of Shahin farms and Doudiane on Syrian-Turkish borders, fifteen members of ISIS died while the rest escaped.

Zein revealed that battles moved to the outskirts of Tal Battal and Tal al-Ahmar, close to al-Rai town ISIS stronghold in the area.

According to el-Dorar al-Shamia Network, al-Fatah Army platoons regained control over Qarasi town in Aleppo southern countryside inflicting heavy losses upon Syrian Regime Forces. The counterattack of Fatah Army killed thirty soldiers and destroyed two tanks.