Iraq News

13,000 flee Manbij since start of assault: Observatory

At least 13,000 civilians have fled the city of Manbij in north Syria, an "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) stronghold, since the offensive to liberate the city began at the end of May, AFP reported Monday (July 4th).

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arab-Kurdish alliance, began their assault on Manbij in late May, encircling the town and entering its southwestern districts on June 23rd.

"At least 13,000 civilians have fled Manbij since the beginning of the SDF operation on May 31st," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman.

"The fleeing increased after the SDF besieged Manbij" on June 10th, he said, adding that on Sunday "hundreds of people fled a southern district of the town where there have been fierce clashes in recent days".

The SDF offensive is backed by coalition airstrikes.

The UN's humanitarian office has not released its own estimates of how many people have fled Manbij, but said in late June that about 60,000 people were still in the town.

According to Abdel Rahman, residents are mostly fleeing from the southern SDF-controlled district into ISIL-free territory to the south.

Some civilians died trying to escape, he said, killed by ISIL snipers or explosives the group planted.

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