By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Syrian-Arab forces have continued to take territory in the country formerly held by Daesh in a bid to capture a strategic hub linking the terrorist group with the Turkish border.
Most recently, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have seized 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) of territory to the northeast of the northern city of Manbij plus six kilometers (3.73 miles) to the south, the Pentagon said Thursday.
“This slow of ISIL fighters has created opportunities along the Mara line and liberating forces have seized those opportunities, freeing several villages without a fight,” spokesman Peter Cook told reporters.
The assault on Manbij began last week, led by the SDF’s Syrian-Arab fighters. The strategic city is a pivotal hub for Daesh, linking its self-proclaimed “capital” in Raqqa to the Turkish border.
Speaking later at a Washington Post-hosted forum, President Barack Obama's national security advisor described the city as "a strategic area that is crucial on the route to Raqqa."
"That's an important step in cutting off supply lines to Raqqa, and ultimately surrounding and squeezing Raqqa," Susan Rice said.
Daesh has attempted to slow the Syrian-Arab advance by reinforcing its positions, particularly to the south, Cook said.
The U.S. supported the anti-Daesh push with 12 airstrikes from Wednesday through Thursday, increasing the total number of strikes during the Manbij offensive to 127, Cook said.