Arabs and Kurds wrest Manbij from Islamic State, cutting off jihadist route to Europe
2 thousand Daesh militants flee using civilians as human shields, later liberated. Kurdish leader: the militia "will no longer be able to travel to and from Europe." For the Pentagon IS "is on the ropes." Hundreds of mines and booby traps placed by jihadists in the ground before fleeing.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Arab and Kurdish militia fighters have liberated the city of Manbij, in northern Syria, from the Islamic State, effectively cutting the jihadists' main route to Europe. The mixed Arab-Kurdish coalition fought for 73 days to clear the area from the Islamic extremist group.
Fleeing, the Daesh militias [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] seized 2 thousand people, including men, women, children, using them as human shields. The civilians were released in the night and in these hours are returning to their homes in the city.
The Islamic State had taken control of Manbij about two years ago. The city is the crossraods for two roads that connect it to Aleppo, the epicenter of the war now underway in the country, to the south-west and Raqqa, the capital of the "Caliphate" in Syria, to the south-east.
Salih Muslim, leader of the Syrian Kurds, said that "with the release of Manbij, IS members will no longer be able to travel to and from Europe”. Among the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who fought against the jihadists, there are also the powerful militia of the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG).
Their advance was also aided by the continuous air raids of Russian fighter jets against Daesh stations. Since the offensive to recapture the city, which began on 21 May, members of the SDF have ripped the over a thousand km2 from the IS. There are still some pockets of resistance held by Daesh militiamen in the northern suburbs.
The road through Manbij has become over time a strategic crossroads for jihadists for the supply of weapons, vehicles and men from the Turkish border and the center of Raqqa.
Commenting on the military success a Pentagon spokesman said that "IS is on the ropes, although fighting continues" in some places.
According to reports from the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the IS militiamen fled on board about 500 cars, bringing with him a group of civilians. The jihadists headed northeast, to Jarablus, near the border with Turkey which is under IS control.
Meanwhile, plans are already being put in place to restore normalcy to Manbij. A task which, according to experts, will be hampered by the hundreds of mines and booby traps that militants have planted in the ground before fleeing.