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US-backed fighters close in on IS Syria bastion

Syrian Kurds, pictured here during the funeral of fighters on June 4, 2016, are backed by Washington and have launched an assault on the strategic northern town of Manbij on the Turkish border, regarded as a key entry point for foreign jihadistsUS-backed fighters have advanced to within five kilometres (three miles) of the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Manbij in northern Syria, threatening a crucial jihadist supply line. The assault by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) adds to the pressure on IS as it faces another offensive by Russian-backed regime troops in its bastion province of Raqa and in Iraq. Supported by air strikes by the US-led coalition, the SDF alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias has made steady gains since launching the operation against Manbij last week.

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