Manbij Military Council

The Manbij Military Council (MMC) is a coalition established by several groups in the Syrian Democratic Forces, primarily the Northern Sun Battalion, on 2 April 2016 at the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates. The MMC led the SDF offensive from June 2016 that led to the capture the city of Manbij across the river two months later. Most fighters in the MMC are locals from Manbij and the surrounding areas. Although the Manbij Military Council was set up by the SDF and is affiliated with the alliance,[8][9] its spokesman Shervan Derwish has denied that it is subordinate to the SDF, considering the SDF an "ally".[10]

Manbij Military Council
مجلس منبج العسكري
Participant in Syrian Civil War
Flag of the Manbij Military Council
Active2 April 2016 – present
Top commander
SpokespersonShervan Derwish
Notable commanders
  • Faisal Abdi Bilal Saadoun (DOW) ("Abu Layla", 2016)
  • Dilsuz Hashme[6]
  • Ibrahim Semho (Euphrates Liberation Brigade)[6]
  • Abu Jassim
  • Abu Khalaf
  • Ahmad Arsh[3] (Manbij Revolutionaries Battalion)
  • Ibrahim al-Banawi
HeadquartersTishrin Dam (pre-offensive)
Manbij (post-offensive)
Area of operationsAleppo, Raqqa, Hasaka, and Deir ez-Zor governorates, Syria
Size5,000–6,000 (2018)[7]
Part of Syrian Democratic Forces (unofficially)[8][9][10]
Allies United States
Opponent(s) Islamic State
Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army
 Turkey (denied by MMC)[10]
Battles and war(s)
WebsiteOfficial website


The Manbij offensive has included the Manbij Military Council, US special operations forces, and minimal YPG and YPJ involvement assisted by US-led coalition airstrikes. The SDF fighters are mostly Arabs. During the offensive, an SDF fighter gave his perspective as "we have Arabs, Kurds, nobody knows how many exactly, we all work under the SDF-forces".[12]

On 5 April 2016, a civilian council was formed in the town of Sarrin by individuals originally from Manbij who had fled when Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took over. The council consists of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Circassians,[13] and was created to administer Manbij after its capture.[14]

The commander of the Manbij Military Council, Abu Layla, died of wounds he suffered from gunshots in the Manbij front against the Islamic State. He was succeeded by Muhammad Mustafa ("Abu Adel").

On 19 August 2016, the Manbij Military Council issued a statement which announced that it was taking over the security of Manbij city center and villages from the YPG and YPJ, though some of their fighters remained to continue to provide training and other support duties.[15][16]

In early November 2016, a 'battalion' from the Sham Legion defected and joined the MMC.

On 17 November 2016, the rest of the YPG and YPJ fighters left Manbij, leaving the security of the area and training of troops fully to the council.[17]

On 2 March 2017, the Manbij Military Council handed over a vast expanse of territory west of Manbij to the Syrian Army to create a buffer zone between the SDF and Turkish-backed rebels. They released a statement saying that "Defending the civilians and protecting them from the adverse impact of the war, ensuring the security of Manbij and frustrating the invasion plans of the Turkish army against Syrian soil are the goals we have taken for all the peoples living on the lands of Syria,"[18] and that

To reach these objectives [the defense of Manbij] we have transferred, after reaching a new alliance with Russia, the defence of the line to the west of Manbij – where the villages between us and the gang groups [FSA, Ahrar al-Sham] affiliated to the Turkish army are – to Syrian state forces."[19]


The SDF ceded this territory west of Manbij because it is clear that there are limits to the extent that the United States will intervene on behalf of the SDF's interests west of the Euphrates.[18]

On 17 April 2017, it was announced that 200 fighters from the council would participate in the Battle of Tabqa to take al-Thawra, part of the larger Raqqa campaign.[11] On 24 May 2017, an additional 2,200 fighters were sent for the fourth phase of the campaign.

The Manbij Military Council fought in the Battle of Raqqa since 6 June 2017. On 29 August, Adnan Abu Amjad, general commander of the Manbij Military Council, was killed in action during the battle.[20]

On 17 September 2017, Muhammad Mustafa Ali, also known by his nom de guerre "Abu Adel", was appointed the general commander of the Manbij Military Council as the successor of Adnan Abu Amjad.[4][21] On 5 November 2017, Abu Adel was wounded by an IED of Harakat al-Qiyam, a rebel group in northern Syria.[5]

On 27 November 2017, the Martyr Adnan Abu Amjad Regiment, consisting of 250 fighters was established, and joined the MMC.


  1. "Join the banner of liberalization of the Euphrates to the Military Council in Aleppo Manbej". ARA News. 2 October 2016.
  2. "The formation of a brigade Hawks Manbej and join the Council of Manbej military". Hawar News Agency (in Arabic). 27 November 2016.
  3. "A Border Police of Assad regime? or a commander in SDF factions?". Verify. 6 March 2017.
  4. "Muhammad Abu Adel, MMC new commander". Hawar News Agency. 18 September 2017.
  5. "FSA Qiyam Movement claims the responsibility".
  6. Aris Roussinos (19 September 2017). "Inside The Fight To Retake Raqqa From ISIS".
  7. Ibrahim Humaidi (6 June 2018). "Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive: Manbij Agreement Tests US-Turkish Ties". Asharq Al-Awsat.
  8. Hadeel al-Saidawi (5 October 2018). "The Meaning of Manbij". Carnegie Middle East Center.
  9. "Islamic State claims attack on SDF in Manbij, first since territorial defeat". Middle East Eye. 26 March 2019.
  10. "We are not against turkey… The Syrian Democratic Forces are our ally and we are not subordinated to them". North Press Agency. 9 May 2019.
  11. Wladimir van Wilgenburg (18 April 2017). "200 fighters from Manbij to join Raqqa operation, SDF gets closer to Tabqa centre". ARA News. Archived from the original on 19 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  12. "SDF-led Manbij Military Council cuts off ISIS supply route between Raqqa and Manbij". Ara News. 2016-06-05. Archived from the original on 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  13. Wilgenburg, Wladimir van. "Kurds, rebels in rat race to seize ISIS territory". Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  14. "Kurds set up new civilian council for recapturing Syria's Manbij from ISIS". ARA News. 6 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016.
  15. "SDF withdraws from Manbij after liberation, handing city over to local council". aranews. 19 April 2016. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016.
  16. "Manbij Military Council takes over the security of Manbij". ANF. 19 August 2016.
  17. "YPJ and YPG withdraw from Manbij". Hawar News Agency. Archived from the original on 22 November 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  18. "Russian general confirms a Kurdish-Russian deal against Turkey". ARA News. 5 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  19. Andrew Illingworth (2 March 2017). "BREAKING: Kurdish-led SDF to handover huge section of territory to SAA". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  20. "SDF: Manbij commander Adnan killed in Raqqa offensive". Rudaw Media Network. 30 August 2017.
  21. "Mohammed Abu Adel as General Commander of the Manbaj Military Council". Furat FM Radio. 17 September 2017.
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