Syria – Manbij crossfire: liberated from IS, Kurdish-controlled city now fears Turkish invasion

… exclusive – Published on RT, March 27, 2017.

… The city seems gradually returning to the way of life it enjoyed before the occupation of jihadists, who enforced their radical interpretation of Islam onto locals after overrunning the city in 2014. Under IS rule, Manbij women were effectively banned from leaving their homes and had to adhere to a mandatory dress code, covering themselves in head-to-toe burqas. Following the city’s liberation, the images of women burning and ripping off these garments went viral, becoming a symbol of resistance to fanatical terrorist rule.  

The contrast between what the residents of the city had to endure under Islamic State and what they experience now is striking, Nour, a young woman, told Phelan, saying that “there was no life for us, we just lived – eating and drinking, everything was prohibited.”

“But right now, things have progressed and Manbij has developed. Thank God all institutions, schools, everything have reopened and are better than before. Honestly, we didn’t expect this development,” she added.

Women in Manbij have gone a step further, setting up their own council to gain control over their future. RT’s Phelan witnessed the opening of the council on March 25, attended by dozens of local women wearing colorful headscarves. … //

… Turkey has been supporting the FSA on the ground since its army’s incursion into Syria in August 2016 within the Operation codenamed Euphrates Shield. While the goal of the intervention was stated by the Turkish authorities as targeting IS positions along the Syrian-Turkish border, Kurdish militias have been arguing that they are the real target of the Turk offensive.

As the conflict risked spiraling into a full-blown war between Turkish forces and the US-backed SDF on Syrian territory, the Pentagon used the tense situation as a pretext to dispatch hundreds of Marines to Manbij in early March. At the time, Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, justified the deployment of forces by “the increase in Turkish threats to occupy the city,” citing incidents of sporadic exchanges of fire that had already occurred outside Manbij between Kurdish and Turkish forces.

Meanwhile, the dispatch of US forces was condemned by the Syrian authorities, with Syrian President Bashar Assad calling the uninvited troops “invaders,” arguing that the presence of the US military only destabilized the situation.

The US “didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions,” Assad said in an interview with Chinese media earlier in March.

(full text, related links).


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