US-Backed Forces Approach Mosul, Retake Syrian Town

Kurdish forces have made large advances on the ISIS-held city of Mosul in Iraq, while civilians have begun returning to the previously held village of Manbij in Syria. Kurdish forces, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, have captured several villages near Mosul—the last large city the group holds in Iraq, according to the BBC. The Kurdish forces are approaching the city from the north, while Iraqi troops are approaching from the south. Coalition aircraft on Sunday hit Mosul with three strikes, including hitting tactical units and an ISIS improvised explosive device assembly area, US Central Command announced. Thousands of civilians in Syria were able to return to the village of Manbij after US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces retook the city on Friday, Reuters reported. The town sits near the Turkish border, and was key for ISIS to import foreign fighters into Syria. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a Monday statement, congratulated the people of Manbij, the Syrian Arab Coalition, and the Syrian Democratic Forces for the liberation from “ISIL’s hateful rule.” “Manbij city was a key transit point for ISIL fighters going into both Syria and Iraq, and for its external operators plotting attacks against our allies, our partners, and our homeland,” Carter said. “The success in Manbij city will also help reinforce the growing isolation of Raqqa and enable us to achieve the next objective of our campaign in Syria – collapsing ISIL’s control over that city.”