HASAKAH – The Syrian opposition on Wednesday called on the US-led coalition to stop airstrikes, after dozens of civilians were killed in the besieged city of Manbij by coalition airstrikes on Monday and Tuesday. Kurds rejected the demand of the Syrian opposition.
Kurdish officials denounced the demand of the Syrian opposition, suggesting it will only prolong the suffering of Arab civilians who are being used as human shields by militants of the Islamic State (ISIS).
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on 31 May launched an operation to liberate the city of Manbij. However, the presence of civilians in the city has slowed down the operation.
The SDF-led Manbij Military Council on Wednesday emphasised in a statement that they are taking the necessary measures to ensure the safety of civilians.
Moreover, a group of Syrian activists have started a campaign under the banner ‘Manbij is being exterminated’, supported by the Yusuf Qaradawi, the chairman of International Union of Muslim Scholars, who has justified suicide bombers in the past.
Speaking to ARA News, Kurdish analyst and former official of Kobane administration Idris Nassan said: “Now as Manbij is being liberated step by step, the agendas depending on ISIS are losing themselves and being defeated. [Pro-ISIS activists] are trying to makes obstacle for the progression of the SDF, showing that the SDF fighters are violating human rights like ISIS does.”
“But the reality is that Arab civilians in the stranded city are waiting for their freedom and calling on the Syrian Democratic Forces to liberate them as soon as possible,” he stated.
Nassan called on the opposition to be more realistic.
“Stopping the airstrikes will only help ISIS, that is beheading, raping and torturing Arab civilians. They [Syrian opposition] should rather ask for the liberation of Manbij, to save as many civilians as they can,” he told ARA News.
“These campaigners are just spreading fabricated news, gathering old pictures from different countries, to show that civilians are killed by coalition airstrikes,” he added.
“The [SDF-led] Manbij Military Council in a statement denied the killing of civilians in a village north of Manbij by Coalition jets, showing they were killed by ISIS fighters who were gathering in the village and preparing to attack Manbij,” Nassan concluded.
Arab civilians in Manbij previously told ARA News that ISIS oppressed them, and the people of Manbij have organized protests against ISIS.
Iyad Ibrahim al-Jumayli, an Arab civilian in his 20s, told ARA News that they have lived their “worst days under ISIS”.
“They [ISIS militants] are like Mongol hordes,” he said.
“The coalition airstrikes were accurate and they have targeted locations without killing civilians and we felt comfortable when they bombed some areas and targeted armed militants,” al-Jumayli said. “I can provide you with evidence, there are six bodies of ISIS and they are not civilians. And all people of Manbij are waiting to be liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces.”
Speaking to ARA News, SDF official Dr. Nassir Haji Mansur said: “Sometimes civilians are trying to escape ISIS despite the threat of death. People in Manbij organized protests against ISIS in the past, this is the proof that all civilians in Manbij are against ISIS.”
There are now fears that the US-led coalition will limit its airstrikes against ISIS which would lead to more casualties among the SDF-forces and slowing down the operations to defeat ISIS on the Turkish border.
“The Americans are very sensitive to civilian casualties in airstrikes and the negative effect they have in generating local support for the fight against ISIS,” Barak Barfi, a research fellow at the New America Foundation, told ARA News.
reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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