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2 Months of Battles Clear Out ISIS in Manbij, 2,000 Civilians Made Human Shields | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces in rural area of Manbij in Aleppo governorate on May 31, 2016 (Rodi Said, Reuters)

Ankara, Beirut- Kurdish and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have successfully seized full control over Manbij, ejecting all ISIS remnants. The Syrian city had been under the hardline group’s dominance since 2014.

Post becoming ISIS-free, the main arms supply route, connecting each of Iraq, Turkish borders and Syria will be zeroed in on, making it difficult for reinforcement to reach terrorists.

The SDF on Friday launched the final phase of the operation to free Manbij, targeting ISIS where they were holed up in the northern neighborhood of al-Sarb.

ISIS militiamen had kidnapped an estimated 2,000 civilians to be used as human shields while withdrawing from their final fortified positions in Manbij, namely al-Sarb neighborhood.

Spokesperson for the SDF, Shervan Derwish, said that among the abducted civilians is a majority of women and children.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a monitoring group that records daily developments in Syria, said on Friday that around 500 cars had left Manbij carrying ISIS members and civilians, heading northeast towards Jarablus, a town under the control of the armed group on the Turkish border.

On the other hand, fierce clashes renewed in Aleppo city and its rural areas on Friday. Battles pitted regime forces and allies against Syrian Opposition Forces.

Despite, the regime dropping chemical barrel bombs over the city, opposition forces continued their advancement claiming a huge strategic win by cutting off the regime’s sole supply route into Aleppo.

Preparations for three-way Turkish-Iranian-Russian coordination of offensives have witnessed major progress. The development indicates a solid possibility of looming tripartite alliance over the Syria crisis, in which Moscow plays the lion’s share in drafting coed operations.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Turkey on Friday. Zarif and counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu did not spend any effort to conceal present disputes over a number of case files, namely Syria.

Nevertheless, the two came out to declare finding some common ground concerning the Syria crisis, on which potential cooperation could be built.