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Sunday, July 24, 2016

ISIS mounts 'fight like never before' in battle for Manbij

(AFP) Islamic State group (ISIS) jihadists clashed on Saturday with US-backed fighters in the Syrian town of Manbij, pursuing their fierce defense of the jihadist stronghold and ignoring a deadline to leave.

There are growing fears for the fate of civilians trapped in Manbij, formerly a key stop along ISIS's supply route from neighboring Turkey into its self-styled Islamic "caliphate" in Syria.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) penetrated the town one month ago but have since been hindered by a bloody ISIS counter-offensive amid concerns about civilians.
On Saturday, ISIS jihadists appeared to ignore a 48-hour ultimatum to leave issued by the Manbij Military Council, a key SDF member.

"The 48-hour period is over, and there will be no more opportunities like this one for Daesh (ISIS)," a commander from the council told AFP on condition of anonymity.

ISIS has "not responded" to the SDF's offer and instead "attacked our positions", he said.
The ultimatum came after at least 56 civilians, including children, were reportedly killed Tuesday in US-led coalition air strikes near Manbij.

The commander pledged that his forces would "intensify our attacks on their remaining positions". READ MORE