U.S. backed fighters uncovering troves of data for U.S. intelligence

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. is exploiting an enormous amount of digital information about the Islamic State obtained by Syrian rebels who are fighting for control of the city of Manbij, a spokesman for the American-led military coalition said Wednesday.

Speaking by phone from Baghdad, Col. Christopher Garver told reporters at the Pentagon that it's unclear how this trove of intelligence might affect the direction of the war, but he suggested it has been of considerable value.

"We think this is a big deal," he said.

The intelligence is on laptop computers and portable data storage devices such as thumb drives. Garver said it amounts to more than four terabytes of digital information and sheds new light on how the Islamic State has used Manbij as a "strategic hub" for welcoming, training, indoctrinating and dispatching foreign fighters.

Garver said the information has not provided links to those involved in attacks on Western targets directed or inspired by IS, an acronym for the Islamic State.