MANBIJ – After recapturing the Syrian border city of Manbij from militants of the Islamic State (ISIS), western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces started dismantling explosives and landmines left behind by ISIS.
Speaking to ARA News in an exclusive interview in central Manbij, commander of the SDF-led Manbij Military Council, Adnan Abu Amjad, said that their forces have started a campaign to clean the city from ISIS explosives in order to allow displaced people to eventually return home.
“We’re now clearing areas that have been under ISIS control,” he said.
“The ISIS terrorist group had taken more than 2000 civilians as hostage and surrounded them with car bombs in order to prevent them from escaping. If we (SDF) would have made any movements towards that location many of those civilians would have been dead now,” the SDF commander told ARA News. “Maintaining civilians’ safety has been our top priority in this operation.”
The SDF has repeatedly called on ISIS to release civilians captured by the group inside Manbij. However, the radical group refused to respond and reportedly used the civilians as a human shield during the battle.
“There was no agreement between the SDF and ISIS regarding the civilians’ situation inside Manbij. The ISIS terrorists had taken those civilians as hostages and forced us to allow them [the militants] to pass the road to Jarablus together with the arrested civilians. We’ve done that only to protect those civilians,” Amjad said.
The SDF leadership has appealed to people no to approach their houses before they’re all cleared by the SDF specialised teams.
“After expelling ISIS from the city, we’ve warned civilians not to approach their houses before their cleared by the SDF. Our specialised teams are now dismantling a large deal of explosives and landmines left by ISIS terrorists,” he told ARA News.
The official also called on the international community to provide an urgent assistance to help in dismantling explosives in Manbij.
“We hereby call on the international community to assist us cleaning residential neighbourhoods of Manbij from explosives in order to guarantee civilians’ safety.”
“Subsequent to the liberation of Manbij city, we now stress that our role here is to protect civilians. We’ll work hard to prevent any infiltration by ISIS into the city. After making sure of the people’s safety, we’ll hand the city over to the civilian council,” Amjad said.
“As for the coming anti-ISIS operations, we leave this to the general command of the Syrian Democratic Forces to evaluate and decide. But we’re determined to fight terrorism everywhere,” he added.
“We would like to thank the international coalition, especially the US, UK, France and other partners, for their air support to our forces in the battle for Manbij,” the SDF commander concluded.
Source: ARA News
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