US-Backed Forces Attack ISIS-Held Syrian City of Manbij

Heavy Clashes Reported in Western Districts on City's Edge

by Jason Ditz, June 23, 2016

Officials from the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS are reporting that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) faction have entered the outskirts of the city of Manbij, north of Raqqa, where they are engaged in heavy lighting against ISIS.

The force has been pushing against Manbij for weeks, contesting villages around the city’s outskirts. Manbij is considered valuable primarily as a safe transit route for ISIS between Raqqa, its de facto capital, and its border crossings into Turkey.

The SDF is a “coalition” of factions, but is made up almost exclusively of the Kurdish YPG forces. The other factions involved are far smaller by comparison, but are often emphasized by the US when Turkey complains about the US backing the Kurds against Arab populations.

ISIS had launched counterattacks around Manbij earlier this week, and recovered some nearby villages. The indications now are that the fighting has again settled on the city, though ISIS may ultimately attempt to get some fighters out into the surrounding area to force the SDF to divide its focus.

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