After nearly 40 days of siege, ISIS fighters in Manbij city are slowly buckling under increasing pressure from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
On Sunday, a total of 7 U.S. coalition airstrikes struck ISIS insurgents inside the city, mainly in the northern Hawatima neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, SDF ground troops reached the Al-Aqsa mosque, just west of the city center while clashes are still ongoing on the near vicinity of Manbij National Hospital.
The Kurdish YPG – the largest faction within the SDF – has deployed its most elite sniper units to Manbij – these sharpshooters have not only inflicted a considerable death toll upon ISIS but also greatly restricted the jihadist group’s maneuverability inside the town.
ISIS still controls the entire eastern part of Manbij although SDF forces are slowly gaining ground from the city’s western, southern and northern flank.
Effectively, SDF fighters have now taken control of 50% of Manbij city as Islamic State ammunition stockpiles are gradually running out.
Nevertheless, Amaq News (ISIS affiliated news outlet) reported that 8 YPG fighters were killed during clashes in the city.
Several ISIS attempts at breaking the Manbij siege have failed despite some minor gains in its surrounding countryside.
If the Islamic State should suffer defeat in the battle for Manbij, this would open up for a SDF offensive towards either Al-Bab or Jarabulus; if these ISIS bastions fall too, the Islamic State will have lost its final stretch of border territory with Turkey.