US-Backed Rebels Again Push Into ISIS City of Manbij

Recent ISIS Counterattack Has SDF Trying to Reestablish Foothold

The US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), who were mostly chased out of the city of Manbij earlier this week in a surprise ISIS counteroffensive on a number of fronts, are once again pushing back into the city, trying to establish a foothold in the southeast.

Manbij is an important city for ISIS, linking their de facto capital of Raqqa with their territorial possessions along the Turkish border in Aleppo Province. This is why the Kurdish-dominated SDF has dedicated such resources to trying to take the city.

But surrounding the city and expressing confidence the battle would soon be won didn’t pan out like they hoped, as over the weekend ISIS managed to get forces out of the city, reclaiming several nearby villages, and then launching attacks on the SDF-held part of Manbij.

In pushing back into the city, the SDF is underscoring that they aren’t giving up after recent setbacks, but at the same time, ISIS appears to be willing to dedicate considerable resources to keeping a hold on the area, meaning the fight is anything but a foregone conclusion.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.