While there had been reports of ISIS raids in northern Aleppo Province in response to the push by the US-backed SDF against the city of Manbij. Today, however, SDF officials reported that the push is far bigger than previously reported, and that over the past three weeks, ISIS had captured 900 Kurdish civilians.
The raids were seen in part as “retaliation” for the Manbij offensive, but the abducted Kurds are also being set to work building barricades around Manbij and elsewhere in the region, and are being forced to wear ISIS uniforms, an attempt to discourage US airstrikes.
The SDF is made up of a handful of factions in northern Syria, but the overwhelmingly largest is the Kurdish YPG. The Kurdish dominance of the SDF has led to further targeting of Kurds around the area, an attempt to add to the perception that fighting in the area is Kurds vs. Arabs.
The US-backed SDF has surrounded Manbij, and reportedly have entered the city in a limited number. The city’s value is primarily related to its location, as a main route between Raqqa and ISIS territory around the Turkish border, including Jarabulus.