In the last few days the eastern pocket in Manbij has been entirely eliminated with the SDF capturing the market area, including the headquarters of the Hisba, IS morality police, the reserve bakery and the industrial centre. Tatbekat Prison in the southwest has also completely fallen to SDF control. IS snipers are still reported in the area of the Agricultural School and the city centre.
On Monday the SDF liberated the Teba neighbourhood and the central ring road. Latest estimates suggest that the SDF now control 90% of the city and that there are only around 100 x IS fighters, mainly snipers, and their families left in the central district but they are holding 1 – 2,000 civilians as hostages.
For the third time, the SDF on Monday offered to let the IS Jihadists leave the city unharmed if they allowed civilians to go free but so far no response, as with previous offers. Most of the civilian hostages come from the Al-Sarb district, just south of the centre and reports say they have been moved further north.
If the IS Jihadists make a break for it, it is likely to be northwards towards Jarablous. The SDF meanwhile have continued to rescue thousands of civilians, though many have been injured by IS mines and IEDs as they escaped. Where possible the SDF destroy the mines with controlled explosions.
On Monday IS attempted a three-pronged counter-attack from the north, south and west but ended up with 27 dead, although losses were also reported on the SDF side.
Yesterday, Tuesday, IS launched another counter-attack on SDF positions to the north and north-east of Manbij using at least 2 car bombs but the SDF held their ground and more than 40 x IS bodies were retrieved at the end of the fighting.
Coalition air strikes against IS continue, 14 in Syria yesterday, Tuesday, and 11 in Iraq. Near Manbij 11 strikes struck 11 separate IS tactical units and destroyed 5 x IS fighting positions and 3 x IS vehicles.
Manbij is very likely to fall completely in the coming few days, and the predominantly-Kurdish SDF is most likely to set its eyes on Jarablus to strip ISIS of one of its last two remaining border-crossings with Turkey. This development would allow the SDF to advance on the Islamic State stronghold of Al-Bab and on Al-Ra’i with greater ease and eventually link up with their comrades in the Afrin canton.