first published on June 2, 2016 by Will
The US Special Operations-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) just used Bridge Erection Boats to sneakily cross the Euphrates River and flank ISIS in the Manbij pocket north of Raqqa. The unexpected maneuver cost ISIS as many as 20 key villages and the fight is now nearing the Manbij city center.
The taking of Manbij is part of the overall operation to retake Raqqa, ISIS’ Syrian capital, but was considered a prerequisite since most of the Islamic State’s fighters, supplies, and intelligence that flow in from Turkey, first use the town as a segue to Raqqa and the rest of Syria.
When Manbij is taken, ISIS in Raqqa will be cutoff from resupply, and the SDF operation will shift focus to retaking the city from Daesh. When the SDF claims victory in Manbij and the surrounding countryside, the Kurds will be one step closer to potentially uniting all of Rojava into a single, unbroken strip of territory along Turkey’s southern border.
Turkey is outraged, and consequently, ISIS has renewed attacks on the Kurdish Syrian-Turkish border towns of Azaz and Marea in an attempt to distract and disrupt the SDF’s progress in the Raqqa operation. However, once the Kurdish forces cut off this Manbij corridor to Raqqa, ISIS will be left with many less options of attack.
We may be witnessing the end of ISIS in Syria, but don’t expect this sick ideology to just disappear. Expect remissions as well as flareups in places like Libya and Egypt where the Islamic State continues to infest and gain clout.