Syrian rebels ‘seize key town Manbij from IS’

A US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters has taken “almost complete control” of a strategically important Syrian city held by so-called Islamic State (IS), activists say.

Manbij is situated at an intersection of roads just south of the Turkish border.

It has been under IS control for more than two years.

Some IS militants are still present in the centre of the city, a UK-based monitoring group said.

The Syria Democratic Forces, a coalition of US-backed fighters including the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, launched a campaign to retake the city two months ago.

They were backed by US-led air strikes on mills in the city where IS fighters were positioned.

After some heavy fighting, Manbij was encircled and completely cut off in June.

Dozens of civilians, including 11 children, were reportedly killed in US-led air strikes in July as they fled a village near the city.

At that time, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights warned that 70,000 civilians were trapped in a deteriorating situation in Manbij.

Road links

Now, says a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that relies on updates from people inside Syria, IS is being pushed out.

A spokesman for the rebel coalition, Sharfan Darwish, told Reuters news agency that battles were continuing but that around 90% of the city had been cleared of Islamic State fighters.

The roads in Manbij link the IS stronghold of Raqqa to the Turkish border and other areas under its control in Aleppo province.

The routes have become key to the group’s ability to move fighters, weapons and supplies in and out of Syria.

Source: Reuters