ISIS Given Ultimatum by Kurdish Forces to Leave Syria’s Manbij

ISIS Given Ultimatum by Kurdish Forces to Leave Syria’s Manbij
Thu Jul 21, 2016 17:42:05

Syrian forces have given the Takfiri ISIS (Daesh / ISIL) terrorists 48 hours to abandon the embattled northern city of Manbij near the Turkish border.

The Manbij Military Council, allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that is a coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces, issued the ultimatum on Thursday in an effort to “protect civilian lives” in Manbij.

“This initiative is the last remaining chance for besieged members of ISIS to leave” the city, the council said in a statement.

Members of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attend the funeral of fellow fighters in the Syrian Kurdish city Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, on June 24, 2016. ©AFP

“In order to protect civilian lives and property and to protect the town from destruction, we announce that we accept the initiative under which besieged ISIS (Daesh) members would leave with their individual light weapons,” it added.

The statement further urged civilians to leave the city or distance themselves from areas where clashes are taking place.

An unnamed SDF commander said that tribal leaders in Manbij had proposed a 48-hour ultimatum last week, but the measure was put into force on Thursday after ISIS “used residents as human shields” and media pressure to protect civilians trapped in the city.

Since May 31, the SDF has been fighting ISIS in Manbij with the support of airstrikes from the US-led coalition allegedly battling the extremists.

Boys on pick-up trucks evacuate from the southern districts of Manbij city after Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters advanced into the city in Aleppo Province, Syria, July 1, 2016. ©Reuters

However, the aerial assaults have claimed the lives of dozens of civilians around Manbij in recent days, prompting the so-called Syrian National Coalition opposition group to call for a suspension of the coalition air raids.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the coalition airstrikes left at least 56 civilians dead in north of Manbij on Tuesday, a day after 21 others were killed in a northern district of the besieged ISIS-held city.

Also on Thursday, clashes and air raids were reported in Manbij, where the SDF advanced overnight, the observatory added.

SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman said the SDF troops seized a southern district of Manbij, “bringing them the closest they have been to the center of” the city.

Manbij, situated in Syria’s Aleppo Province, is a key point along ISIS’s main supply line from the Turkish frontier to its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

In June, the SDF broke into western districts of Manbij, but its advance has been slowed in the past month because of bombings and landmines planted by the extremists.

The so-called multinational task force against ISIS started its controversial mission in Iraq in late 2014 after ISIS seized control over territories west and north of the country.

The US-led air campaign was later expanded to cover areas in northern Syria despite criticism from the Syrian government that the attacks violate the sovereignty of the Arab country.

However, analysts say the air strikes have failed to cripple the extremists, who are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control, Press TV reported.

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