73 days of fighting over Manbij and the surrounding area is over, according to the US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), which claims to have seized full control over the city and region, and to have “freed 2,000 civilians” who were claimed to have been captured just hours prior.
Manbij is a key north Syrian city that had long been under ISIS control. The city is on a route connecting the Aleppo Province territory of ISIS along the northern border with their capital city of Raqqa. The loss of Manbij, if confirmed, will force them to use longer, more dangerous routes.
Pentagon officials presented the move as proof ISIS is “on the ropes” in Syria, and presented Manbij as a huge military victory over them, despite being unable to confirm claims that the whole city had been “liberated.” The US has been conducting heavy airstrikes with the area throughout the offensive.
Indeed, the US airstrikes have at many times been a sore spot for their allies in Manbij, causing huge civilian death tolls. Several US-backed rebel factions have urged the US to halt airstrikes in Syria because of the Manbij deaths, but the Pentagon has refused to do so.