US-backed forces advance in IS Syria stronghold: monitor

Beirut:  Advancing Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by US-led air strikes now control 40 percent of the Islamic State stronghold of Manbij in northern Syria, a monitor said today.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had pushed deeper into the town near the border with Turkey, with air cover from the US-led coalition against the jihadists.
Around 2,300 civilians have fled Manbij in the past 24 hours as the SDF fighters advanced, according to the Britain-based monitor.  It said clashes between the joint Kurdish-Arab force and IS fighters were continuing in several parts of the town.
"It's a street battle, and the process of eating away at IS territory is ongoing," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
He said the SDF had advanced into eastern parts of Manbij, which is located in Aleppo province on IS's main supply route between Syria and Turkey.