Manbij offensive (2016)

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Manbij offensive (2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War,
the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present),
and the American-led intervention in Syria
Date 31 May 2016 – present (2 years, 10 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
Location Manbij, Manbij District, Aleppo Governorate, Syria

Syrian Democratic Forces
Air support:
no CJTF–OIR[1][2]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Units involved

People's Protection Units Flag.svg People's Protection Units
YPJ Flag.svg Women's Protection Units
Manbij Military Council[3]

Military of ISIL

The Manbij offensive is a military offensive operation by the Syrian Democratic Forces to capture the city of Manbij in northeastern Aleppo Governorate from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.


In late December 2015, the SDF crossed the Euphrates and captured the Tishrin Dam and nearby towns from ISIL, therefore paving the way for a future offensive toward Manbij.


By 30 March 2016 the United States Air Force has conducted 25 airstrikes against ISIL.[2] On 2 April, 6 non-YPG factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces formed the Manbij Military Council to pave way for the attack on Manbij. Most of the groups are part of the Army of Revolutionaries's Northern Sun Battalion, including the Euphrates Martyrs Brigade, the Jund al-Haramayn Brigade, and an non-Northern Sun Battalion group consisting of ethnic Turkmen called the Manbij Turkmen Brigade.[3][4][5]

On 3 April, the U.S. has asked for Turkey’s support to the Manbij offensive, but Turkey had two demands in exchange for helping the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition. Turkey first demanded that the Syrian Arab tribes to be included in the Manbij operation should leave the Syrian Democratic Forces, which majority consists of the People's Protection Units and the Women's Protection Units and also the U.S. must increase its air strikes for groups Turkey support.[6]

On 4 April, according to a Turkish source, a group of U.S. military and intelligence staff traveled to Turkey to work on a plan for an operation to liberate Manbij.[7]

On 5 April, a civilian council was formed in the town of Sarin by individuals originally from Manbij whom fled when IS took over. The council consists of Arabs, Kurds, Syrian Turkmen, Circassians[8] and was created to administer Manbij after its capture in the future. Due to the US' alliance with Turkey, which is hostile to SDF gains, the SDF is still pending for American support for the offensive.[9]

As of 23 April, the Coalition announced that they had not yet begun air support for the offensive, due to the support for a failed offensive conducted by the rebels against ISIL near Mare'.[10]

On 31 May, the US announced that they will support the offensive and will send supporting troops in the area. A US official stated that Syrian Arab forces will administrate the city in the future when it falls.[11]

The Offensive

On 31 May, the Syrian Democratic Forces and YPG liberated three villages and the al-Gharra mountain from ISIL, south-east of the ISIL stronghold of Manbij. This advancement put the SDF and YPG within 15 kilometres of Manbij.[12]


Turkey has stated that it is not participating nor contributing to the offensive.[13] According to a Turkish source the reason behind the Turkish decision is the involvement of Kurdish (YPG) fighters and because it was beyond the range of artillery stationed in Turkey.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Syria Kurds preparing Manbij offensive: report". Now. 30 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "US airstrikes pave way for PYD, regime advance in northern Syria". Daily Sabah. 30 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "The formation of a new Manbij Military Council to expel Daesh from Manbij, Aleppo". All4Syria. 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Military council formed and announced on Tishrin Dam, statement says: "We will make every effort to liberate Manbij"". Live UA Map. 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Several SDF factions have formed the military council for Manbij". Live UA Map. 2 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Turkey has two demands from US for support in Manbij operation: Sources". hurriyet.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Turkey has two demands from US for support in Manbij operation: Sources". hurriyet.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Wilgenburg, Wladimir van. "Kurds, rebels in rat race to seize ISIS territory". Retrieved 2016-05-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Kurds set up new civilian council for recapturing Syria's Manbij from ISIS". ARA News. 6 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "U.S.: No decision yet to support Kurds to close ISIS-held Manbij pocket". ARA News. 23 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Exclusive: U.S.-backed Syria forces launch offensive for Manbij pocket - U.S. officials". Reuters. 1 June 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Syrian Democratic Forces capture new villages in Northern Syria". 31 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Turkey not contributing to US-backed Syria operation near Manbij: Source". hurriyet.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>