Women of Syria’s Manbij fear ISIS return

MANBIJ, Syria (North Press) – Ibtisam has been able to live a normal life after the expulsion of ISIS from the city of Manbij in northern Syria, and she managed to have a job that was prohibited during ISIS era.

“Women of the city, including me, were able to carry on their days after stability and security spread over the area. However, attacks launched by Turkey and its shelling of the city’s countryside haunt us fearful of ISIS return,” Ibtisam Abdulqader, 37, from Manbij, said.   

The city of Manbij, east of Aleppo, is one of the most important industrial centers in northern Syria, as it is a transportation hub and sits on a commercial road linking the Autonomous Administration held areas with those of the Syrian government, in addition to opposition-held areas in northern Syria.

Women of Manbij fear ISIS return and imposing its “strict” measures in case Turkey launches a ground operation.

Since November 20, Turkish forces have carried out intense and wide spread ground and air bombardment against northeast Syria using fighter jets, drones and artillery, targeting military personnel of Syrian government forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and vital infrastructure.

The return of ISIS practices in northeastern Syria puts the area in particular and the entire world in general at risk in term of their ability to have access into their countries of origin, posing real threat on these countries.

Women’s fears come after the SDF announced suspending its mission against ISIS due to the latest Turkish escalation in the AANES-held areas.

A week after the SDF’s announcement, ISIS posted photos of its militants with vehicles and light and heavy weapons in Syria. 

Also, dozens of footages were published by ISIS-run social media showing militants holding ISIS flags and chanting slogans glorifying the “caliphate”.  

Like Ibtisam, the matter raises concerns of Fatima Obaid who told North Press, “We suffered a lot before the liberation of Manbij from ISIS oppression and persecution.”

The SDF supported by the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS liberated Manbij from ISIS in 2016 following fierce battles.

Following its liberation from ISIS, the Arabs, Kurds, Circassians and Turkmen, who constitute the fabric of Manbij, established their own administration under the name of Democratic Civil Administration of Manbij and its Countryside to run the affairs of their region. Then, this administration joined the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). 

The AANES was first formed in 2014 in the Kurdish-majority regions of Afrin, Kobani and Jazira in northern Syria following the withdrawal of the government forces. Later, it was expanded to Manbij, Tabqa, Raqqa, Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor after the SDF defeated ISIS militarily there.  

The Turkish airstrikes on the vicinity of Hawl Camp in Hasakah countryside, that is a house for ISIS families, made ISIS increase its act more as some families tried to flee.    

Fatima Mansori, a resident of Manbij, managed to have a stable and secure life in Manbij.

She said she lived the era of ISIS and saw views of horror and violence practiced by ISIS militants, adding that she do not want that era to be back again.

Mansori, who is from Damascus, told North Press, “It is enough for war. We have suffered from displacement. We cannot bear a new suffering. Most of our families’ members were killed under shelling during the years of war.”  

Reporting by Ahmad Abdullah