Kurdish-led forces advance west of Manbij, northern Syria
MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – On Saturday, the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gained more control over areas in the western countryside of Manbij, including a private university and the main roads that link Aleppo, Manbij and Raqqa.
Kurdistan24 team embedded with the SDF covered the latest updates of the military operation around Manbij on the northern front that launched from Kobani and the eastern front from Qaraqozaq, and recently the western front from Tishrin Dam advancing towards the west.
According to Kurdistan24 reporter embedded with the SDF on western front (west of Manbij), Al Etihad University (some 12 km/7 miles) west to Manbij was controlled by SDF in Friday’s late evening in addition to the main roads that link Syria’s northern province of Aleppo with both Islamic State (IS) group’s strongholds of Raqqa and Manbij.
[A screenshot of a live map of the town of Manbij and its surrounding areas by an online project called Syrian Civil War Map. Both shots show the advancement of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on June 10 and 11]
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Sharvan Darwish, an SDF senior military commander and spokesperson, talked about the southern and western fronts and the situation inside Manbij.
“Our forces killed at least 30 IS insurgents today in the west of Manbij, and according to our military plan, we can enter the city and fight but we are still worried about the stranded civilians,” Darwish said.
He added that the final death toll of neither sides has been announced yet because the fighting is going on in the city’s outskirts from all sides.
Additionally, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict using sources on the ground, reported that the SDF reached 16km/10 miles in the western countryside of Manbij and control about 100 villages.
[An SDF fighter talks to Kurdistan24 reporter in the western countryside of Manbij, pointing to the areas recently controlled by their forces, Manbij, Aleppo province, Syria. June 11, 2016. (Photo: Kurdistan24)]
SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES (SDF)
The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which includes Kurds, Arabs and others ethnicities, was formed in December 2015 at a conference in northeastern Syria. The Council aims at promoting a secular, democratic vision for Syria.
The SDC adopted an already established military force called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are fighting against IS. The SDF, founded in October 2015, unites Arab, Turkmen, and Armenian militias, as well as Free Syrian Army (FSA) units.
The SDF liberated several IS strongholds in north and northeast Syria. The first was the liberation of Al-Hawl south of Hasakah in November 2015, and then in the south of Kobani 50 villages were liberated. IS was also pushed out of Tishrin Dam on Dec. 26, 2015.
On Feb. 10, SDF announced the control of Mengh and its military airport, north of Aleppo.
On Feb. 16, SDF launched a three-day military offensive titled “Wrath of Khabour” which ended with the liberation of al-Shaddadi on Feb. 19.
Although mainstream media presents SDF as an inclusive force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the primary element of the coalition and outnumbers all other groups.
Editing by Ava Homa