US coalition official to ARA News: SDF will retake Manbij from ISIS, no plans to advance beyond

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

ARA News 

KOBANE – Christopher Garver, the official spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS, said in an interview with ARA News on Sunday that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will continue the ongoing operation for Manbij until liberating the city from the Islamic State (ISIS), emphasising there are no plans to advance further after taking Manbij– on the Syrian-Turkish border.

“In terms of the follow-on mission the SDF will undertake, I wouldn’t want to speculate about future operations or give Da’esh any information that may be useful,” Col. Garver said. 

“For the time being, the Coalition is focused on supporting the attacking forces as they close on Manbij,” he told ARA News.

Some local fighters say it’s still possible that the next operation will be in Raqqa city.

“After Manbij, we will go to Raqqa,” Abdo Muslim (30), a local FSA fighter and member of the SDF-led Manbij Military Council, told ARA News on the Manbij battlefront. 

However, most likely the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would want to open a corridor from Kobane towards Afrin district in northwestern Syria, in a bid to link the three cantons of Rojava in northern Syria. But its unclear if the US-led coalition will back it.

Ismet Sheikh, head of defence in Kobane, promised the Kurds that they will soon unite the Kurdish administrations into one federal region.

“Today we are in Manbij, but tomorrow we will be in Efrin [also known as Afrin], and we will link all the three cantons [Jazira, Kobane and Afrin],” he said during a funeral ceremony of Kurdish fighters in Kobane. “Everybody should know that the blood of the martyrs won’t be priceless.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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