Syrian forces advance 'two kilometres' from centre of Manbij
The Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] are almost two kilometres [1.2 miles] from the city centre of Manbij, sources told Reuters on Sunday, as the offensive to recapture the last territory held by Islamic State [IS] militants on the Syria-Turkey border advances.
The SDF, comprised of a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the US, had pressed their way on the western entrance of Manbij city for the first time since the offensive took off on 31 May.
They have since seized dozens of villages and farms around the city but were held back as tens of thousands of civilians were trapped inside after forces encircled the transit town on Friday, in a major blow to IS.
Figures from last week showed at least 223 IS fighters and 28 SDF troops had been killed – as well as 41 civilians in coalition air raids – since the alliance offensive against Manbij began, according to Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Manbij lies at the heart of the last stretch of IS-controlled territory along Turkey's border.
The siege has severed a key supply route for IS fighters, money and weapons from the Turkish border to the group's de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa city.
Syria's war has killed 280,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
IS has come under attack on several fronts since declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq in 2014.