Syrian Democratic Forces in Manbij countryside. Photo: ARA News
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QAMISHLO – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Tuesday opened a humanitarian corridor between the ISIS-held city of Manbij and its countryside, in a bid to help civilians evacuate the war-torn city.
Backed by the US-led coalition’s air cover, the SDF recaptured the entire countryside of Manbij from ISIS militants subsequent to heavy fighting. More than 105 villages were liberated since the SDF launched a battle for Manbij on 31 May, 2016. However, the group is still in control of the city of Manbij and has been using civilians as human shields in the fighting against the SDF.
“After capturing western parts of the city, our forces have opened a humanitarian corridor between the city and its liberated countryside in order to assist civilians to evacuate the city so that we can continue with our operations against ISIS terrorists inside Manbij city,” SDF officer Habun Osman told ARA News.
Hundreds of civilians were able to escape the besieged city of Manbij, using the corridor opened by the SDF west of the city.
“The safety of civilians is a top priority for us at the moment, otherwise we would have already liberated the entire Manbij border pocket from ISIS,” the SDF official said. “So, now we are trying to rescue the stranded civilians and prevent the terror group from using them as human shields during the clashes. Then we’ll attack ISIS in its final stronghold in Manbij downtown.”
The 98-kilometer-long border area in Aleppo’s countryside is called the Manbij pocket, and is used by the Islamic State group (ISIS) to transport foreign fighters from Turkey to Syria, and to smuggle arm supplies to the de-facto ISIS capital of Raqqa, in northeastern Syria. Also, the extremist group has used the Manbij pocket to send trained jihadis abroad to conduct terrorist attacks. Closing it down would make Europe and America safer, US and Kurdish officials have said.
Reporting by: Ahmed Shiwesh
Source: ARA News