ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An explosion on Friday evening in the Syrian city of Manbij has injured at least six civilians and caused damage to the Amal Hospital and the surrounding area.
The six injured civilians were taken to a health care facility to receive medical treatment.
Two days earlier, another bomb exploded on al-Makhama street, killing a child. On Sept. 1, an explosion injured two people on Al-Rabetah Street, in addition to others caused by IEDs in the last few weeks across the city.
The bombings are thought to be linked to Islamic State (IS) sleeper cells, although many observers say both the Turkish and Syrian governments also have an interest in destabilizing Manbij.
The Manbij Military Security (MMC), created to defend the city against any attempts by IS to recover territory after it was driven out in August 2016, confirmed on Sept. 5 that two of its fighters were killed in a terrorist attack, likely carried out by IS militants.
In an earlier statement, the MMC said, “Terrorist forces are trying to destabilize their security and stability to spread sedition in Manbij.”
“The challenge facing the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) is that there is now an underground militant movement arrayed against it that is directed by Turkey,” Nicholas A. Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) told Kurdistan 24.
“Some of the operatives in this movement have ties to IS through smuggling networks that had been developed when the would-be Caliphate was the putative authority over much of northern and eastern Syria,” he said.
“IS operatives, drawn from the local Syrian population, are seeded into the Turkish-backed, Syrian militant networks that are seeking to bloody the SDF. This reality is a threat not only to the SDF; it is also a threat to Coalition forces stationed in Syria.”
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum, told Kurdistan 24 that IS cells are operating in areas under SDF control. “Some of them slipped back into those areas quietly. It’s going to be a low-scale problem, not fundamentally threatening,” he said.
“IS is not threatening to take over these areas,” Tamimi added. “It’s a low-scale insurgent problem that’s going to persist for some time.”
Editing by John J. Catherine