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US Central Command says anti-ISIS operation in Syrian border pocket will take time

QAMISHLI – As Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered western Manbij, Syria, and pushed toward the heart of the city to hit ISIS there, “the operation will still take time due to huge number of explosives,” a U.S. Central Command spokesman said in a press conference.

“The battle to retake Manbij [border pocket] has become an urban fight,” Air Force Col. Pat Ryder told reporters, with advancing SDF fighters maneuvering through “countless snipers and explosive belts.”

In some areas, the SDF has encountered as many as 600 improvised explosive devices, Ryder noted, calling it “a defensive tactic frequently employed by ISIL [ISIS] enemy fighters”.

“The SDF so far [has] been addressing this threat effectively [by] approaching the bombs cautiously and with an acknowledgement that the explosives can impact the city’s civilian population,” he said.

The improvised explosives have cost a lot of casualties among fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces.

On Monday, it became known that local reporter Mustafa Mohammed of Ronahi TV died from his injurie. He and Kendal Cudi, a reporter for Hawar News, were injured in a mine explosion on 13 July near Manbij.

“And similar to other urban fights such as those in Kobane and Ramadi, the battle for Manbij will be a conducted in a slow pace to liberate the city and its people,” the colonel said. “It will take time, it will not be easy, and we are confident that the SDF will eventually take back the city and seize this key terrain from ISIL,” Ryder emphasised.

“ISIL once measured its success by the amount of territory it controlled and the rapid pace of their offensive operations to seize ground,” the CENTCOM spokesman said. “But the territory that ISIL holds continues to shrink as the terrorist organization finds itself continually squeezed on multiple fronts by indigenous counter-ISIL forces and coalition airpower.”

“These forces fighting ISIL are moving at a deliberate, steady and sustainable pace across the battlespace, enabled by the coalition’s consistent support from our considerable capabilities on the ground, sea, air and space,” Ryder said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News
SDF fighters entering liberated areas north of Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

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