Accessibility links

Syrian Fighters Give IS 48-Hour Deadline to Leave Syria's Manbij

  • VOA News

FILE - A Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks in the silos and mills of Manbij. Recent air raids near Manbij killed at least 56 civilians. Activists are planning protests across Syria and opposition government leaders are now calling on Western countries to halt airstrikes. 

FILE - A Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks in the silos and mills of Manbij. Recent air raids near Manbij killed at least 56 civilians. Activists are planning protests across Syria and opposition government leaders are now calling on Western countries to halt airstrikes. 

U.S.-backed fighters in Syria Thursday gave Islamic State jihadists 48 hours to evacuate their stronghold in the northern city of Manbij. The forces surrounded the city last month and have been slowly closing in on it.

According to a statement from the Manbij Military Council, the IS fighters would be afforded the opportunity to leave the city with light weapons, without interference.

"This initiative is the last remaining chance for besieged members of Daesh [IS] to leave the town," said the Manbij Military Council, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance.

The SDF is allied with the U.S.-led coalition of forces fighting against IS in northern Syria. The statement from the military council comes at the same time as tensions are flaring in the country following the reported deaths of dozens of civilians in air raids carried out by coalition forces.

Heavy civilian toll

Air raids near Manbij Tuesday killed at least 56 civilians, including children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Activists are planning protests across Syria and opposition government leaders are now calling on Western countries to halt airstrikes.

Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters man a checkpoint as civilians on pick-up trucks evacuate from the southern districts of Manbij city after the SDF advanced into it in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, July 1, 2016.

Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters man a checkpoint as civilians on pick-up trucks evacuate from the southern districts of Manbij city after the SDF advanced into it in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, July 1, 2016.

By Thursday, activists had taken to social media to organize protests and ask people from around the world to take to the streets to call attention to the casualties. One Syrian news page on Facebook encouraged its followers to demonstrate in opposition to “the massacres carried out by coalition warplanes.”

"We ask all Syrians, whatever their affiliations or sects, and all free people of the world and especially the people of Manbij to stand in solidarity with our devastated city on Sunday, July 24," wrote one page that publishes local news about Manbij.

Several other local news pages from Manbij posted photos from protests that took place Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition leader has called for the air strikes to be halted until a full investigation can be conducted into Tuesday’s civilian deaths.

FILE - Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance stand guard next to a bridge that was destroyed by the Islamic State (IS) group after they took control of the river crossing and rebuilt the bridge as US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advance into the Islamic State (IS) jihadist's group bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria, on June 23, 2016.

FILE - Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance stand guard next to a bridge that was destroyed by the Islamic State (IS) group after they took control of the river crossing and rebuilt the bridge as US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters advance into the Islamic State (IS) jihadist's group bastion of Manbij, in northern Syria, on June 23, 2016.

"It is essential that such investigation not only result in revised rules of procedure for future operations, but also inform accountability for those responsible for such major violations," Syrian National Coalition President Anas al-Abdah wrote in a letter to foreign leaders.

The UN has also condemned the raids, which it said caused the deaths of more than 20 children.

"Such horrific incidents confront parties to this conflict with their shared responsibility to respect international humanitarian laws that protect children in war," said UNICEF's Syria representative, Hanaa Singer.

In a statement, the U.S.-led coalition said that it had conducted the air strikes and it was gathering information about the reports of civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition leader has called for the air strikes to be halted until a full investigation can be conducted into Tuesday’s civilian deaths.

"It is essential that such investigation not only result in revised rules of procedure for future operations, but also inform accountability for those responsible for such major violations," Syrian National Coalition President Anas al-Abdah wrote in a letter to foreign leaders.

The U.N. has also condemned the raids, which it said caused the deaths of more than 20 children.

"Such horrific incidents confront parties to this conflict with their shared responsibility to respect international humanitarian laws that protect children in war," said UNICEF's Syria representative, Hanaa Singer.

In a statement, the U.S.-led coalition said that it had conducted the air strikes and it was gathering information about the reports of civilian casualties.

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG