Kurdish-led forces approach Manbij center, liberate southern neighborhood

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Manbij Military Council (MMC) liberated a southern neighborhood in the town of Manbij, advancing towards the city center.

MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – On Saturday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Manbij Military Council (MMC) liberated a southern neighborhood in the town of Manbij, advancing towards the city center.

Speaking to Kurdistan24, Mezlum Welat, an SDF commander, said their forces crossed the grain silos of Manbij on the east side and advanced towards the town center.

“Our forces advanced about 400 meters [0.3 miles] inside the city, liberated many neighborhoods, and now the clashes are ongoing around the town center,” he said.

Welat added that the forces freed a strategic square and transportation complex beyond the silos towards the town center.

An SDF fighter, Farhad Sarekaniye, told Kurdistan24 that the east and south neighborhoods of Manbij are under the control of Kurdish forces who are making advancements every day.

“The town is large and has a complicated structure [a star shape],” he explained.

“Fighting inside towns is not easy compared to the plain of forest areas, yet we control about 30 percent of the town space,” Sarekaniye added.

The SDF fighter clarified that although their forces have only controlled one-third of the town, they are fighting enthusiastically according to a well-organized military plan.

“We will liberate Manbij soon, and the [Islamic State] terrorists will lose the only strategic gateway linking its areas in Syria and Iraq with the Turkish border,” he said.

[A map shows areas of ongoing clashes in the south, southeast, and eastern neighborhoods between IS insurgents, Kurdish-led SDF and MMC inside Manbij. The yellow spaces indicate SDF-controlled areas, while the grey spaces are controlled by IS. (Photo: Syrian Civil War Map/Edited on July 2, 2016, at Kurdistan24)]

On the south side of the town, Kurdistan24 reporter Ekrem Salih reported that al-Asadiya neighborhood, where top Syrian Kurdish Commander Abu Layla lived, is completely controlled by the SDF and MMC.

Additionally, both brigades besieged Manbij three weeks ago and liberated the west side.

Last week, the forces freed the east and southeast neighborhoods of the town.

However, they could not storm the town center and other neighborhoods because they were worried about stranded civilians.

On May 31, MMC and SDF launched the Manbij operation.

Manbij, which was taken by the Islamic State (IS) on Jan. 23, 2014, is 40 kilometers/25 miles from the Turkish border.

The Turkish border with Syria serves as the primary route for IS insurgents and other al-Qaeda affiliated groups coming from European countries and other parts of the world.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Kurdistan24 correspondant Ekrem Salih contributed to this report from Manbij)