PENTAGON - The top commander for the coalition fighting Islamic State says the terror group’s foreign fighter stronghold in Syria likely will be in complete control of the Syrian Democratic Forces in “a week to weeks.”
“The pocket of enemy resistance shrinks on a daily basis in Manbij,” U.S. Gen. Sean MacFarland told reporters at the Pentagon via teleconference from Baghdad. “I don’t give it very long before that operation is concluded.”
MacFarland, who has led the coalition in its fight against Islamic State since last September, said the coalition is learning how to shape the fight for Raqqa, Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, based on the current fight for Manbij.
“Manbij will inform us as to how we are going to fight in Raqqa, as Ramadi has informed how we’ll fight up in Mosul,” the general said Wednesday.
Captured by IS forces in 2014, Manbij has served as a key transit point for foreign fighters and the trafficking of stolen goods.
Military officials have stressed the importance of the city for months, with MacFarland noting that IS has “a lot of foreign fighters there, and they haven’t cut and run.”