By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – The Syrian Arab Coalition has captured 344 square kilometers (213 square miles) of territory from Daesh in Manbij since last week, U.S. Central Command said Tuesday.
Since the offensive to liberate Manbij, a 98-kilometers strip in Syria along the Turkish border, the U.S.-led coalition has supported local forces with more than 105 airstrikes, according to CENTCOM.
“The Syrian Arab Coalition is leading the operation and will be responsible for securing Manbij once it is freed,” a statement from the command read.
So far, the Syrian Arab Coalition has destroyed 108 Daesh fighting positions, 31 vehicles, 17 heavy-weapons and other elements belonging to the militant group.
Syrian Arabs are supported by the Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly comprised of the PYD’s military wing, the YPG.
As Turkey has long expressed its concerns about the PYD’s separatist political motivations and its link to the outlawed PKK terrorists, Washington has assured Ankara that there will not be any PYD or YPG elements in Manbij after it is freed from Daesh, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday.
The CENTCOM statement also said that U.S. Special Forces are advising and assisting Syrian Arab fighters from the nodes located behind the front lines.
The U.S. has approximately 300 troops in Syria to help anti-Daesh forces.
“The operation to free Manbij is part of the coalition-supported moderate Syrian opposition efforts to clear Daesh from the Turkish border and the Mar'a line,” the statement noted. “The goal is to limit the flow of foreign fighters and minimize Daesh's threat to Turkey, the rest of Europe, and the United States,” it added.