US-backed forces have now seized control of almost 70 percent of Manbij in northern Syria from Islamic State after making rapid advances over the past two days, a spokesman said on Sunday.
Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) have pushed back the ultra hardline Sunni militants into the old quarter after seizing most of the western, eastern and southern sectors of the city, Sharfan Darwish of the SDF-allied Manbij military council told Reuters in Beirut by telephone.
“They are now mainly in the old quarter of the city and parts of the north-eastern part of the city,” Darwish added.
The SDF, which includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia and Arab fighters, launched the campaign nearly two months ago with the backing of US special forces to drive Islamic State from its last stretch of the Syrian-Turkish frontier.
Though at least 2,300 civilians have been able to escape from Manbij, thousands of residents are still trapped inside. The presence of civilians, who the militants were trying to stop from leaving, was hampering US air attacks, Kurdish sources said.
Progress in storming the city had also been slowed by militants using snipers and planting mines, the Kurdish sources said.
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Image courtesy of Reuters