MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – On Friday evening, Manbij Military Council fighters and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered the northern Syrian town of Manbij from the western side.
A Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF operation on the west side of Manbij reported that the forces reached the Kitab Square, the first square of the town on the Aleppo-Manbij road.
The SDF and Manbij Military Council brigades surrounded Manbij last week, but they could not storm the town because they were worried about the stranded civilians.
On early Friday morning, heavy clashes erupted on the west side of the town under air cover provided by the US-led coalition.
Kurdistan24 photographers embedded with SDF forces on both sides of Manbij captured several raids on the Manbij silos on the east side and the Kitab Square on the west.
Regarding the casualties, no verified toll has been reported so far because SDF commanders and fighters are not allowed to give information to the media for security and military purposes.
However, Syrian-based Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported on Friday that 26 Islamic State (IS) insurgents were killed in the clashes on the west entrance of Manbij.
The ANHA report added that the US-led coalition air crafts shelled seven IS bases on the east and west entrances of the city.
Regarding the situation inside Manbij, a civilian activist who spoke to Kurdistan24 on condition of anonymity said that bread and many foodstuffs have not been available in the city for a week.
“There has been no bread in the town for three days, especially after the coalition airstrikes yesterday [Thursday] on the silos and mills when the terrorists expelled the workers and turned the area into a military base,” the activist said.
[A Kurdistan24 cameramen with a Manbij Military Council fighter near Manbij silos, Aleppo province, Syria, June 16, 2016. (Photo: Rodi Said)]
The SDF had already launched two operations three weeks ago. The first one began in the northern countryside of Raqqa on May 24, and the second on May 30 towards the IS-held area of Tabqa, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Raqqa.
On May 31, Manbij Military Council and SDF launched the Manbij operation.
The SDF have liberated several IS strongholds in north and northeast Syria.
Although mainstream media presents the group as an inclusive force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the primary element of the coalition, outnumbering all other groups.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kurdistan24 reporter Redwan Bezar contributed to this report from the west entrance of Manbij)