BEIRUT - Islamic State fighters have evacuated their families from a Syrian town at the Turkish border near a city that they recently lost to US-backed militias, a monitor group said on Friday, a sign they may be preparing to face an attack there.
Last week's capture by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of Manbij, 25 miles (40km) to their south, has left Islamic State fighters in Jarablus in danger of being cut off from the militant group's main territorial possessions.
The town is located at the eastern edge of an Islamic State salient stretching 33 miles (55km) along the Turkish border, and could be encircled by any SDF thrust northwards from its positions further to the west. SDF positions on the Euphrates already look directly across to Jarablus on the opposing bank.
More than 50 families of Islamic State fighters and leaders arrived in the group's stronghold of Raqqa from Jarablus and the larger town of al-Bab, between Manbij and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said.