the Islamic State (ISIS) group has released more than 2,000 people they had been using as human shields after fleeing Manbij, a city in Aleppo province.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance consisting primarily pf Kurdish militias, said on Friday they were in control of most of the city, which had been held by ISIS, also known as ISIS, since 2014.
“While withdrawing from a district of Manbij, ISIS abducted around 2,000 civilians from al-Sirb neighbourhood,” Darwish told AFP news agency.
“They used these civilians as human shields as they withdrew to Jarabulus, thus preventing us from targeting them,” he said, adding that women and children were among those taken.
Darwish later told the Reuters news agency that the SDF had freed more than 2,000 civilian hostages.
“Now there are reports that these civilians have been released, there is a video posted online showing civilians celebrating,” Al Jazeera’s Sayah said.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Friday that around 500 cars had left Manbij carrying ISIS members and civilians, heading northeast towards Jarablus, a town under the control of the armed group on the Turkish border.
“There are reports that perhaps there was an agreement between the SDF and ISIS, allowing them to leave without any attacks,” a journalist said.
“There are also more troubling reports that as they were leaving, ISIS took with them civilians, using them as human shields” so as not to be attacked.
“That is perhaps an explanation of why there was no fighting as ISIS fighters and their supporters left,” Sayah said.
Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of mainly Kurdish fighters backed by the US, launched an offensive against ISIS to retake the city of Manbij in May. Kurdish militias aim at controlling Manbij to complete their control over northern Syria and pave the way to their autonomy goal.
They have besieged the town and are advancing to the city center under the cover of air strikes by the US-led international coalition.
The Kurdish militias also used the US support to attack many Arab villages, commit massacres there and force the citizens to flee.