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Rudaw

Syria

SDF to ISIS: You have 48 hours to leave Manbij

By Rudaw 21/7/2016
SDF forces welcome civilians fleeing Manbij earlier in July. Photo: SDF Press Center
SDF forces welcome civilians fleeing Manbij earlier in July. Photo: SDF Press Center
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region--The US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have told Islamic State (ISIS) militants that they have 48 hours to evacuate from the north of Manbij, an ISIS-occupied city that the SDF have completely surrounded. 

The statement was issued from the Manbij Military Council, an umbrella organization coordinating the operation to liberate the city, which said that if ISIS abides by the ultimatum, they will be allowed to bring light weapons out of the city without being harmed. 

According to Reuters, the council made it clear in the statement that, “this initiative is the only and the final one for the besieged Daesh [ISIS] elements to leave the city.” 

This is the first time such a compromise has been offered to ISIS by the Kurds. The SDF issued the ultimatum to “protect civilian lives” in the city, it said.

"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 IS members would leave with their individual light weapons," the SDF added.

Militants in the city have been using the civilian population as human shields and have laid an extraordinary number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), increasing the risk of civilians being harmed. 

Reports of high numbers of civilian casualties in coalition airstrikes in recent days have sparked international outrage, leading the United States to commit to investigating the allegations. 

“I want to say that we're aware of reports of civilian casualties that may be related to recent coalition air strikes near Manbij city in Syria, which is one of the last junctions connecting Raqqa to the outside world,” said US Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday. 

“We will investigate these reports and continue to do all we can to protect civilians from harm. Being scrupulously careful to avoid civilian casualties and being transparent about this issue is a reflection of the civilized nature of this coalition."

The SDF acknowledges that there have been unfortunate civilian casualties but denied the large numbers being reported, saying that the reports circulating of large numbers of civilians killed in the village of Altukhar have been fabricated by terrorist organizations to undermine the SDF’s campaign. 

Manbij is a strategic city for the Islamic State. It is 40 kilometres from the Turkey-Syria border and lies on the route between Raqqa and Turkey, and thus to Europe. Brett McGurk, the US Special Envoy for the global anti-ISIS coalition, described it as a “foreign-fighter hub.”

Capturing it will cut ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa off from this supply route, isolating the group. SDF forces have been steadily forcing ISIS back across Syria with continued US-led coalition air support.

Comments

 
Peter | 22/7/2016
exscuse me cant these leftists/socailists figure ourt that when attacking a occupied city where civilians are being used as shields casulties are to be expected ,,, like wake up people its a war against terorists you might want to remember , for them killing civilians its their god given right, so of course their goal will be for us to cause casualties ,, course we didnt see russia/syrians fold so quick or the allegations last too long when it was them killing civilians God i do miss George W Bush he knew when to talk shxt and take the bull by the horns,,, oh well just 2 more countries states to break up in middle east (turkey and iran) and it has begun dont doubt that for a second people :) and than everyone except the kurds can only or will be only able to govern their own exact kind and as long as they keep their shxt in there borders fine by me ,, much smaller borders i might add LOL so come on lets get this state of Kurdistan declared started and growing ladies and Gentleman

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