DAMASCUS, Syria, June 6 (UPI) -- Syrian fighters supported by the United States have captured at least 21 villages surrounding the town of Manbij away from Islamic State control.
U.S.-led coalition airstrikes aided the ground effort by the Syrian Democratic Forces militia, which includes the Kurdish Peshmerga. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the SDF is about 3 miles away from Manbij, adding that at least 30 Islamic State militants died Sunday.
The SDF offensive to retake Manbij began Wednesday and the effort would help cut off the Islamic State from Syria's northwestern border with Turkey. The Islamic State has recently made efforts to solidify its control in territory near the Turkish border.
The Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad, aided by Russian airstrikes, is also making efforts to advance into the Raqqa province. The Syrian army hopes to recapture the strategic town of Tabqa, about 25 miles away from Raqqa -- the unofficial capital of the so-called Islamic State.