by WorldTribune Staff, August 14, 2016
Jubilant women were seen tearing off their niqabs and burning them in the streets of Manbij after the northern Syrian town was liberated from the brutal rule of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared Manbij fully liberated on Aug. 12, saying they were “starting a new history after closing the book of darkness.”
The terror organization is “on the ropes” in Syria and “there are no more ISIL fighters” left in Manbij, an SDF member said.
The battle for Manbij lasted 73 days, displacing nearly 100,000 civilians and left more than 400 dead.
Amid news of Manbij’s liberation, women removed the ISIL-imposed full-face veils and burned them. Others smoked cigarettes, while men cut off their beards, actions that were illegal under ISIL’s rule.
Reuters news agency spoke to a resident of Manbij who described a spot where people were beheaded. “For anything or using the excuse that he did not believe [in God], they put him and cut his head off.”
Manbij was a key strategic town for ISIL and vital to its supply routes.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurds and Arabs, launched the operation to drive ISIL out of Manbij in late May, but was slowed by the jihadists’ use of civilians as human shields.
In the midst of fleeing Manbij, ISIL released hundreds of civilians they used as human shields while, but took around 2,000 civilians, including women and children, to ward off airstrikes as they headed towards the ISIL-held frontier town of Jarabulus, according to the SDF.
At least some captives were later released or escaped, the alliance said on Aug. 13, but the whereabouts of the rest was unknown.