IS Frees Hun­dreds Used By Ji­hadists As Hu­man Shields

Fiji Sun - - World News -

The Is­lamic State group has freed hun­dreds of civil­ians used by the ji­hadists as hu­man shields while re­treat­ing in north­ern Syria, US-backed forces and a mon­i­tor said on Satur­day. A source from the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF), which pushed IS out of the city of Man­bij last week with the aid of US-led air strikes, told AFP that some of the civil­ians were able to escape while “oth­ers were freed”. The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, a Bri­tish-based mon­i­tor, said that sev­eral hun­dred of the civil­ians taken were no longer held by IS. The SDF, an Arab-Kur­dish al­liance, launched an as­sault in May on Man­bij, on a key ji­hadist sup­ply route be­tween the Turk­ish border and IS’s de facto Syr­ian cap­i­tal Raqa.

IS fight­ers seized around 2000 civil­ians as they fled Man­bij last Fri­day, us­ing them as pro­tec­tion against air strikes en route to the ji­hadist-held town of Jarab­u­lus, on the Turk­ish-Syr­ian border. “Among the civil­ians taken by IS there were peo­ple used as hu­man shields, but also many who chose vol­un­tar­ily to leave the town due to fear of reprisals” by the SDF, Ob­ser­va­tory head Rami Ab­del Rah­man said. The ji­hadists, who have suf­fered a string of losses in Syria and Iraq, have of­ten staged mass ab­duc­tions when they come un­der pres­sure to re­lin­quish ter­ri­tory they hold. IS has also booby-trapped cars and car­ried out sui­cide bomb­ings to slow ad­vances by their op­po­nents. Ac­cord­ing to the Ob­ser­va­tory, 437 civil­ians, in­clud­ing more than 100 chil­dren, were killed in the bat­tle for Man­bij and sur­round­ing ter­ri­tory. Around 300 SDF fight­ers died, along with more than 1000 ji­hadists, it said.

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