Daily Management Review

Major Front Against Isis in Syria War Opened by U.S.- Backed Forces


Major Front Against Isis in Syria War Opened by U.S.- Backed Forces
A major offensive to drive Islamic State out of a swathe of northern Syria it uses as a logistics base as launched by thousands of U.S.-backed fighters who opened a major new front in Syria's war.
Isis’ access to Syrian land along the Turkish border that the militants have long used to move foreign fighters back and forth to Europe is aimed to be choked by the operation that began on Tuesday after weeks of quiet preparations.
"It's significant in that it's their last remaining funnel" to Europe, a U.S. military official told Reuters, the first to report the offensive.
Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss military planning, the source told Reuters that acting as advisers and staying back from the front lines, a small number of U.S. special operations forces will support the push on the ground to capture the "Manbij pocket" of territory.
"They'll be as close as they need to be for the (Syrian fighters) to complete the operation. But they will not engage in direct combat," the official said.
Six militant tactical units, two headquarters facilities and a training base were pounded by air operations by the US led coalition on Tuesday near Manbij with 18 strikes which also acted as an aid to the ground operations.
The Syrian militias would reach Islamic State-held Manbij within days, after advancing to within 10 km (6 miles) of the town, predicted a Kurdish source speaking on condition of anonymity, reports Reuters.
The Islamic State defenses stationed on the west bank of the Euphrates River had collapsed at the start of the campaign, said the source while maintaining that it was too early to say how the battle for Manbij would go.
A top priority of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State has been driving the group from its last remaining foothold at the Turkish border. About 80 km (50 miles) of the frontier stretching west from Jarablus is controlled by the group.
Islamic State has proved adaptable, willing to change tactics, cautioned some U.S. military and intelligence officers.
In the past 24 hours, 15 civilians including three children were killed near Manbij in the U.S.-led air strikes in support of the ground operation, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory's reporting is based on an activist network in Syria.
16 villages had been taken by the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance and was 15 km (9 miles) from Manbij town itself, said the Observatory. Syria Democratic Forces is conducting the assault to capture the Manbij pocket.
The U.S. officials had said earlier that the forces of Kurdish YPG militia will only represent about a fifth or a sixth of the overall force and that the operation would be overwhelmingly comprised of Syrian Arabs instead. Turkey, which has opposed any further expansion of Syrian Kurdish sway at the frontier, would see this as an important development.
The Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters are viewed to be terrorists by Ankara and have been enraged by U.S. backing for the militia in its battle with Islamic State in Syria. The Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters already control an uninterrupted 400-km (250-mile) stretch of the border.
However, the Kurdish YPG militia made up the majority of the fighters taking part in the SDF assault, said the Observatory.