On June 10, the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by the US-led coalition air power, encircled the ISIS-controlled city of Manbij in Syria’s Aleppo province. The SDF also killed the ISIS governor of Manbij, Osama al-Tounsi. His convoy was exiting the western gate of the city, heading towards al-Bab, when it was targeted by SDF units. According to Kurdish sources, some 10 ISIS militants, including Osama al-Tounsi, were killed.
On June 11, there were no reports yet about attempts to storm the Suni-populated city. In turn, SDF units were advancing further in Northern Syria. There are 2 directions of the SDF military efforts:
- The border town of Jarabulus, in 15 km to the north from the SDF control zone
- The town of Al Bab, in 20 km to the west from the SDF control zone, along the Manbij-Al Bab highway
Earlier in June, Christopher Garver, the official spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS promised that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), that are the main local striking force of the SDF, won’t advance further in Northern Syria when Manbij is liberated. However, Manbij hasn’t been liberated and Kurds are advancing to the North. And this is a big problem for the US amid the tensions over the “Kurdish issue” with Turkey.
US officials and Western media disseminate reports about some “Arab-led SDF forces” that encircled Manbij. These reports are a wishful thinking or a direct disinformation. There are just not enough Arab militias among the SDF for such advances. In turn, the Kurdish nationalism and attempts to set an autonomus region or even independent in Northern Syria provoke a serious antagonism among the Arab population. The tensions with locals don’t allow Kurdish forces to strom major Arab cities without a threat of humanitarian disaster there [major destructions in residential areas and casualties among local populations] and grow of the support to Islamist militant groups by the locals [especially if these are Suni-populated cities].
This is why the Washington argues about some “Arab elements” among the SDF and the Pentagon was pushed to deploy special operation forces troops to support SDF advances directly on the ground. But the question arises: “Is this enough?”
The recent developments may show that the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military units, YPG, prefer to seize more areas along the Syrian-Turkish border instead of launch bloody storms of Arab populated cities, controlled by ISIS.