Under a blanket of airstrikes led by the United States, a coalition of mostly Kurdish fighters on Saturday advanced into a key town in northern Syria held by the Islamic State.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a British-affiliated group monitoring the war, said members of Syrian Democratic Forces reportedly took most of the town of Manbij, which is viewed as an important strategic position because of its proximity to Raqqa, a nearby city effectively serving as the self-proclaimed caliphate’s capital.
Islamic State fighters were reportedly pushed to pockets of the Manbij but one Kurdish activist told the Associated Press it would be “a matter of time” before the Islamic State was pushed entirely out of the town.
Since the end of May, 432 civilians and more than 100 children have been killed, many by coalition airstrikes on Manbij, SOHR said.
Also in Syria on Saturday, rebel forces continued a second day of intense fighting in the embattled city of Aleppo against government troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. SOHR reported the rebels escalated a push to capture a Syrian military complex housing government weaponry.
Portions of the city are controlled by both sides of the conflict, though the capture of the complex, which houses military colleges, would put the rebels on the offensives and end what some have described as a government siege on the city.
As of Saturday afternoon rebels claimed they had captured the complex with images of tanks and fighters backing those claims.
Gaining control of the complex would also cut government troops off from a crucial route to the city of Damascus, the center of the government campaign in a civil war that has lasted for more than five years.