MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – Dozens of Islamic State (IS) insurgents were killed on Monday in clashes with the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Manbij Military Council (MMC) in the southeast neighborhoods of Manbij.
In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, Sharvan Darwish, an SDF senior military commander and spokesperson for the MMC, said that a southeast neighborhood in Manbij was liberated.
“Our forces are less than a kilometer away from the town center, and clashes are ongoing in the Hazawna neighborhood in the southeast and the grain silos and mills in the east of Manbij,” he said.
Darwish said that more than 20 IS insurgents were killed in the Hazawna neighborhood in the southeast of Manbij in the last two days. He added that dozens of IS bodies had been left near the grain silos in the east side of the town.
“So far, we are on the 26th day of the Manbij Operation which is now called the Martyr Abu Layla Operation,” he said.
“Over 1,300 IS militants were killed, and about 800 of the insurgents’ bodies were seized by our forces,” Darwish added.
Many MMC and SDF fighters spoke to Kurdistan24 about their high morals as they are moving towards the town center.
“We have the power and determination to attack the city and shell IS targets, but we are advancing strategically making sure that the insurgents will not be able to use civilians as human shields,” said an MMC fighter.
In the past two days, the forces have 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.
The SDF had already launched two operations last month. The first one began in the northern countryside of IS’ Syrian de facto capital of Raqqa on May 24, and the second one on May 30 towards 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 SDF as an inclusive force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the primary element of the coalition, outnumbering all other groups.
The shot shows the ongoing clashes in the southeast neighborhood of Hazawna between IS insurgents, Kurdish-led SDF and their allied brigades of MMC.
The yellow spaces indicate the SDF-controlled areas, while the grey spaces are controlled by IS. (Photo: Syrian Civil War Map/Edited on June 27, 2016, at Kurdistan24)
Syria’s democratic forces with support of Arab factions under the banner of Northern Sun and Manbij and Raqa revolutionaries are within a range of 5 to 6 kilometers from the Manbij city borders in Aleppo Countryside, Northern Syria coming from all fronts and they were able to liberate the southern villages of Manbij city.
The forces were able to cut the major line connecting Manbij to Alraqa and it is one of the lines supplying ISIS in Aleppo.
The villages liberated in northern countryside are Hasan Agha, Qina qabli, Abu Qalqal, Mahshiya Tawahen and Mahshiya Sheikh Obeid.
Bejan Seri Kanye: “We came to fight side by side with Syria Democratic forces to liberate Manbij from ISIS which is now surrounded and we will save the families. We liberated various villages and we will not stop and in hours we will take Manbij.”
Jasim Housh: “We cut the supplies line for ISIS from Alraqa city and we took Abu Qalqal and we are in Hasan Agha now, we have 5 km left to surround Manbij from 3 Axes.”
Jwan Jan Furat: “We joined Syria democratic forces for the Manbij liberation campaign, we started with Tishrin Dam along with Northern Sun and Manbij and Raqa revolutionaries and other factions with Syria democratic forces.”
MANBIJ – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have further advanced into Manbij on the 25th day of the operation. The Islamic State (ISIS) has responded to the losses by taking more than 1,000 civilians hostage. The Kurds now fear that ISIS could execute them in revenge for their losses.
Subsequent to heavy clashes with ISIS militants, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured the Sharia roundabout in Manbij in Syria’s northern Aleppo province. The SDF also expelled ISIS jihadis from the Manbij grain silos and the Akhdar farms south of the city, military sources told ARA News.
In the meantime, ISIS jihadis have reportedly attacked Manbij civilians with snipers and heavy machine gunfire, while they were trying to escape into the SDF controlled areas in the countryside of Manbij. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the death of a number of civilians by ISIS gunfire in Manbij, including children.
The Syrian Democratic Council called on the international community to respond to the targeting of Kurdish civilians.
“To prevent massacres like in Tel Aran, Tel Hasel and Sinjar, a corridor is urgently needed,” Aysa Abdullah, the co-head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) said in a public statement.
In July 2013, over 19 Kurds were killed and more than 400 went missing, after Islamist groups and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) attacked the Kurdish towns of Tel Aran and Tel Hasel. Currently, these two Kurdish towns are under regime control.
Moreover, in August 2014, the Islamic State killed over 5,000 Yezidis in Sinjar [Shingal] district in northern Iraq, beside enslaving and raping thousands of Yezidi women. According to the United Nations (UN), ISIS committed a genocide against Yezidis.
The Syrian Kurds fear now that in response to the losses, the extremist ISIS group will resort to kidnapping and executing Kurds in the towns of Qabasin, al-Bab and Ahras, where many Kurds live. In the past, ISIS has kidnapped many Kurds from Kobane and northern Aleppo in response to being defeated by the Kurdish forces. ISIS tortured many civilians only for being Kurdish, especially after the group lost the battle for Kobane in January 2015, where 4,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters have been killed the hands of Kurdish YPG troops.
In August 2013, ISIS released dozens of Kurds in Qabasin, after demanding them to ‘repent to God’ for joining the PYD party, suggesting that any Kurd that would join the PYD after signing the agreement would become an apostate. For ISIS, anyone who is a member of a Kurdish party, or a member of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or Peshmerga forces, is branded an apostate, and ISIS punishes apostasy with death penalty.
As a result, many Kurds were either crucified or beheaded by ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. However, the Kurdish intelligence in Iraqi Kurdistan has managed to eliminate many of the ISIS executioners that beheaded Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in coordination with the coalition forces. As a result, ISIS executioners started hiding their faces in execution videos.
Some analysts suggest that ISIS could lose the city of Manbij this month, after losing more than 70 per cent of its fighting power under fierce attacks by the SDF forces.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
Heavy clashes are ongoing in Syria’s Manbij as Kurdish units, supported by the US-led coalition air power, are advancing to the city center. Kurdish units have seized the Al-Aljani gas station, besieged the Al-Haram roundabout and advanced to the eastern grain silo complex.
Omar Bin Khattab mosque has been surrounded by Kurds. Up to 30 ISIS militants are there.
Pro-Kurdish sources report that at least 60 ISIS militants have been killed in recent clashes.
Yesterday, Kurdish forces reached Manbij’s cemetery, deploying in a striking distance to the city center.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (the Kurdish YPG and some Arab militias, supported by US, French and German special forces) are advancing towards the city center of Manij, an ISIS-controlled logstic hub, located in the Aleppo province.
SDF units have seized a gas station, located at the M4 Highyway, in the southern part of the city and encircled ISIS militants in the Assadiat neighborhood. If ISIS militants are pushed from Assadiat, it will become the first neighborhood, liberated in Manbij.
US-led coalition warplanes have conducted at least 7 air strikes in the area of the city, destroying ISIS-controlled bridges, the terrorist group’s positions in the residential areas.