Over 14,000 civilians flee ISIS-held town in northern Syria

Kurdish commander Shervan Darwish (C) speaking to a press conference in Manbij countryside. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

MANBIJ – More than 14,000 Syrian citizens have been able to escape the city of Manbij which is still held by the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group. The civilians headed to nearby areas recently liberated by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

This comes after the SDF opened humanitarian corridors between the war-torn city and its liberated countryside.

Most of the families that escaped Manbij city have been received by their sons who are fighting in the ranks of the SDF-led Manbij Military Council, who had earlier fled Manbij and formed the council to fight against ISIS.

According to the leadership of the SDF-led Manbij Military Council, the delay of liberating the city came due to the fear for the stranded civilians inside the city.

Majid al-Manbeji, a member of the Manbij Military Council, told ARA News: “Our mission is to maintain civil peace and protect our people from ISIS atrocities. Here are the civilians as you can see, and our young fighters have moved forward to fight ISIS inside the city of Manbij.”

“The operation is in progress and our forces are making further advance against ISIS. Now we’re sheltering our mothers and sisters who fled the city,” he said. 

The SDF and the US-led coalition have avoided the use of heavy weapons and airstrikes recently to decrease possibility of killing innocent civilians during the anti-ISIS campaign.

“Our operation was interrupted due to the presence of civilians in the battlefield,” the SDF official said. “That’s why we’ve been avoiding use of heavy weapons.”

Over 1,000 civilians are being evacuated from Manbij on a daily basis since the start of the operations five weeks ago, most of them are women and children.

Speaking to ARA News, Camilla Muhammad, a citizen released from ISIS siege, said: “When we left Manbij city, ISIS militants opened fire on us, and tried to interrupt our attempt to escape. Afterwards, the road has been opened [by the SDF] and we have been able to come to our brave SDF men.”

“However, there are still many civilians stranded inside the city,” she added.

Amshah, a mother who has met her son after three years, expressed her joy for being liberated from ISIS and finally meeting her son. “We have escaped death. We have fled a graveyard and arrived here to safety, to our courageous men.” 

Reporting by: Enwer Omar

Source: ARA News 

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