10,000 civilians flee Manbij as Kurdish-led forces open corridors

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their allied brigades of Manbij Military Council (MMC) opened two corridors in the Islamic State’s (IS) stronghold of Manbij freeing thousands of civilians.
author_image Hisham Arafat

MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their allied brigades of Manbij Military Council (MMC) opened two corridors in the Islamic State’s (IS) stronghold of Manbij freeing thousands of civilians.

A Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF, Ekrem Salih, reported that at least ten thousand civilians escaped Manbij in the afternoon through corridors in the east and southeast.

Salih explained that after controlling the grain silos and mills on the east side of Manbij in the past few days, the MMC and SDF fighters made gaps on the entrances of the city where IS lost control.

Additionally, survivors told Kurdistan24 that dozens of civilians were shot by IS while they were running away.

The civilians who survived went to the Kurdish-held territories of Kobani and Jazira in northern and northeastern Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

On Friday, the SDF and their allies entered Manbij from the west side and reached the Kitab Square, the first square of the town on the Aleppo-Manbij road.

An SDF commander of a brigade that controls the east end of the city told Kurdistan24 IS withdrew from the east to protect other areas from SDF liberation.

Up to the present moment, civilians are still fleeing from Manbij under the protection of the US-backed forces.

The SDF had already launched two operations three weeks ago. The first one began in the northern countryside of Raqqa on May 24, and the second on May 30 towards the IS-held area of Tabqa, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Raqqa.

On May 31, MMC and SDF launched the Manbij operation.

The SDF have liberated several IS strongholds in north and northeast Syria since.

Although mainstream media presents the group as an inclusive force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the primary element of the coalition, outnumbering all other groups.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Kurdistan24 reporter Ekrem Salih contributed to this report from the east entrance of Manbij)

The photos show civilians who fled Manbij settling in areas of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), June 19, 2016. (Photos: Reuters/Rodi Said)