Hundreds of civilians have fled Manbij with the help of Kurdish-Arab alliance troops who have surrounded the Daesh-held city in north Syria, says a UK-based monitoring group.
"Around 600 civilians fled on foot towards areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance south of the town," said the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday. Director of the observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, added that the SDF troops transported the civilians to safety.
The SDF is an anti-Daesh alliance of Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Turkmen, and mostly Kurdish fighters belonging to the People's Protection Units, also known as the YPG.
US military officials claim the offensive in Manbij is supported by American special operations forces, who are acting as advisers and staying some distance back from the frontline.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been stuck in the city after the US-backed SDF troops laid siege to it on Friday following a major offensive on May 31.
Abdel Rahman noted that those remaining in the city are in constant danger of US-led coalition airstrikes and are also facing food and water shortages as the SDF forces have blocked all roads to and from Manbij.
Based on figures released by the observatory, which supposedly relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria, since the beginning of the offensive, 223 Takfiri terrorists and 28 SDF troops have been killed. Forty-one civilians have been also killed by coalition airstrikes.
Fierce clashes continue to the northwest of the town, where Daesh terrorists have launched a counteroffensive in an attempt to regain roads leading to the city.
The siege has crippled a key supply line of funds and arms to the group’s de facto capital Raqqah.
Manbij is located in the center of the last swath of Takfiri-controlled land close to the Turkish border.
Ankara slams Washington SDF support
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the US to choose side in the battle against terrorism. He further stressed that YPG forces making vast gains on Daesh around Manbij are only doing so to gain further territory.
“Right now, there is a serious project, a plan being implemented in northern Syria. And on this project and plan lay the insidious aims of those who appear as 'friends'. This is very clear, so I need to make clear statements,” Erdogan was quoted by news outlets as saying on Sunday.
He added that the US must grasp the concept that the Kurdish forces which it backs in the region are no better than the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.
Turkey accuses the YPG of having links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been engaged in a three-decade fight for autonomy in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.
Ankara and Washington both consider the PKK as a terrorist organization.
“You accept Nusra Front as a terror organization and Nusra Front also fights against Daesh. Why don't you see them as partners, too?” he asked, adding, “For us, there are no good or bad terrorists. All terrorists are bad.”
Syrian troops pound Daesh in Raqqah
Syrian forces, backed by the air support, have targeted several Daesh held positions in the city of al-Rasafa in the suburbs of Raqqah province.
During the attacks, convoys of armed and transport vehicles belonging to the terrorists were destroyed.
Raqqah, on the northern bank of the Euphrates River, about 160 kilometers east of Aleppo, was overrun by Takfiri terrorists in March 2013, and in 2014 was proclaimed the center for most of the terrorists’ administrative and control tasks.
The potential recapture of Raqqah in Syria and the northern Iraqi city of Mosul are seen as the ultimate blows to Daesh.
Last Saturday, Syrian forces entered the province for the first time since 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign of terror on the Arab country.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.