Daesh kidnaps 2,000 civilians fleeing Manbij in Syria

Published August 13th, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walks on a street with his weapon in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on August 7, 2016. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)
A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walks on a street with his weapon in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on August 7, 2016. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)

Daesh militants abducted about 2,000 civilians from Manbij shortly after they were forced to retreat from the strategic Syrian city near the Turkish border, Kurdish officials said Friday.

"We did not fire at [the militants] as they took civilians with them while fleeing towards Jarablous [in Aleppo]," Shervan Darwish, spokesman for the Kurdish Minbij Military Council, told dpa.

The Democratic Forces of Syria (DFS), a US-backed alliance of Kurds and Arabs, on Friday declared the "liberation" of Manbij near the Turkish border, from Daesh forces after a campaign of more than two months against the extremist group.

Al-Sirib, the last area still under Daesh control in Manbij, was "totally cleansed of the gangs," the DFS-linked Manbij Military Council said in a statement carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency.

"Only mine-clearing operations are ongoing," it said.

US airstrikes had played a key role in the offensive, according to the statement.

Daesh fighters withdrew from al-Sirib without a fight, heading to the area of Jarablous on the rural edge of northern Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The DFS started a major offensive in late May, backed by a US-led air coalition, to retake Manbij, which has been under Daesh control since 2014.

On August 6, the Britain-based Observatory reported that the DFS had taken almost full control of Manbij and started a mopping operation in the city's northern section, where Daesh extremists were holed up.

The fall of Manbij, near the often porous border with Turkey, is likely to have a major impact on Islamic State's ability to bring supplies and fighters to its de facto Syrian capital of al-Raqqa and its remaining territories in Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, at least 12 people, among them five children, were killed late Friday in the northern countryside of Aleppo when planes raided the village of Hayan, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said the death toll is likely to increase as many of the wounded are in critical condition.

Fighting continued between rebels and regime forces in south-west Aleppo amid heavy strikes by Russian planes.

On Wednesday, Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said all military hostilities in Aleppo would halt for three hours a day for three consecutive days starting Thursday, to allow humanitarian convoys to deliver aid to civilians there.

The ceasefire had been due to begin at 10 am local time (0700 GMT).

© 2019 dpa GmbH

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