US-backed Syria forces launch offensive for Manbij pocket

By REUTERS
June 1, 2016 07:15

WASHINGTON - Thousands of US-backed fighters in Syria are launching an offensive to capture from Islamic State a crucial swathe of northern Syria known as the Manbij pocket following weeks of quiet preparations, US officials disclosed to Reuters.

The operation, which only just started to get underway on Tuesday and could take weeks to complete, aims to choke off Islamic State's access to Syrian territory along the Turkish border that militants have long used as a logistics base for moving foreign fighters back and forth to Europe.

"It's significant in that it's their last remaining funnel" to Europe, a US military official said.

A small number of US special operations forces will support the offensive on the ground, acting as advisors and staying some distance back from the front lines, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss military planning.


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