Middle East

Mainly Kurdish fighters control much of Syrian IS stronghold

  • FILE - In this Friday, July. 29, 2016 file photo, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), shows Syrian citizens inspect damaged buildings after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria. Fierce fighting and airstrikes continue in Syria's northern city of Aleppo as insurgents try to break a siege on opposition-held eastern districts in a counteroffensive to government advances. But Syria's war, now in its sixth year, is raging beyond Aleppo, claiming dozens of lives every day. (Aleppo Media Center via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, July. 29, 2016 file photo, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), shows Syrian citizens inspect damaged buildings after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria. Fierce fighting and airstrikes continue in Syria's northern city of Aleppo as insurgents try to break a siege on opposition-held eastern districts in a counteroffensive to government advances. But Syria's war, now in its sixth year, is raging beyond Aleppo, claiming dozens of lives every day. (Aleppo Media Center via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian protesters demonstrate against the bombing of Aleppo in Syria, on the Place des Nations in front of the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, August 5, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Syrian protesters demonstrate against the bombing of Aleppo in Syria, on the Place des Nations in front of the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, August 5, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This Tuesday, July. 26, 2016 file photo, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), shows Syrian stand as they watch a bulldozer removes rubble from damaged buildings after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria. Fierce fighting and airstrikes continue in Syria's northern city of Aleppo as insurgents try to break a siege on opposition-held eastern districts in a counteroffensive to government advances. But Syria's war, now in its sixth year, is raging beyond Aleppo, claiming dozens of lives every day. (Aleppo Media Center via AP, File)

    FILE - This Tuesday, July. 26, 2016 file photo, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), shows Syrian stand as they watch a bulldozer removes rubble from damaged buildings after airstrikes hit Aleppo, Syria. Fierce fighting and airstrikes continue in Syria's northern city of Aleppo as insurgents try to break a siege on opposition-held eastern districts in a counteroffensive to government advances. But Syria's war, now in its sixth year, is raging beyond Aleppo, claiming dozens of lives every day. (Aleppo Media Center via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Activists say predominantly Kurdish fighters are now in control of most of a stronghold of the Islamic State group in northern Syria after a push under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Syria Democratic Forces are in control of most of the town of Manbij amid fighting in northern neighborhoods and the town's center.

Mustafa Bali, a Syria-based Kurdish activist, said Saturday that IS still holds some areas in Manbij, including the major northwestern neighborhood of Sarab.

Bali said "it's a matter of time" before SDF fighters capture the town.

If Manbij is captured by SDF, it will be the biggest strategic defeat for IS in Syria since July 2015, when the extremists lost the border town of Tal Abyad.