The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) responded with gunfire and arrests when dozens of residents held an unprecedented protest against the jihadist group’s rule and draconian policies in the town of Manbij in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, activists cited by several news outlets revealed.
Several civilians were reportedly killed and dozens of others injured as a result of the jihadist group’s violent reaction to the demonstrations.
Manbij Mubasher, described by Lebanon’s NOW News as a “popular pro-rebel” Facebook page that monitors events in the Aleppo town and elsewhere in Syria, reported that several small protests against ISIS “brutality, oppression, and injustice” broke out in the town on Thursday. The Facebook post reporting this has since disappeared from the site.
The Facebook page featured two images purporting to show Thursday’s unusual protests.
“In response to the oppressive practices of ISIS against residents of the city of Manbij… dozens of citizens came out to criticize the group last Thursday afternoon and called on it to leave the city,” reported Manbij Mubasher in Arabic on Sunday, according to NOW.
“Demonstrations took place on the Jarablus road and several streets [in the town] in the form of small gatherings, which the group met with gunfire and arrests,” added the Facebook post.
Highlighting some of the factors that have sparked the ire of local residents, the post described in detail the alleged situation in the town, which was first captured by ISIS in January 2014.
“The [terrorist] group has prevented residents from traveling and killed a number of citizens [accused of] various charges,” reported Manbij Mubasher.
“It has also taken away a number of the city’s sons on the pretext of [enrolling them in] sharia courses only for their families to discover later that they were killed… after being forced to fight by the group,” also mentioned the post, noting that “the city is seeing an unprecedented state of popular unrest.”
Activist media in Syria claimed the demonstrations continued over the weekend, points out NOW.
Pro-opposition news outlet 7al.me reported that a protest urging ISIS to leave Manbij was held on Saturday.
The outlet, citing a source from the Manbij, noted that the protest occurred on the heels of “major harassment of civilians and the continual arrest of men and women.”
Abu Yaman al-Halabi, identified by NOW as an activist who told 7al.me he had participated in the protest, said that Saturday’s demonstration had been “the second of its kind this week.”
“[The protest’s] main goal was to make [ISIS] leave the city using peaceful means. It was organized by civilians after the huge repression they have been subjected to by the group,” reportedly said the activist, further adding, “Two of the demonstrators were arrested while the rest took flight yesterday after the protest was fired upon by the group in the city’s northern streets.”
“There is great unrest among civilians in the city; this is the result of major harassment and arbitrary detentions, of women in particular and men in general, and the many cases where innocent civilians have been executed,” noted Halabi.
“In recent days, ISIS mercenaries have begun kidnapping Kurdish and Arab women in the city on the pretext that their husbands support the Free Syrian Army,” said the news outlet, reportedly affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units forces (YPG) fighting ISIS.
“Two days ago, Manbij locals took part in a demonstration criticizing the practices by ISIS’s mercenaries against the city’s women, but the mercenaries attacked the demonstrators with live bullets, killing several civilians, injuring [dozens] and kidnapping a number of men,” it also reported, noting that “ISIS’s mercenaries have continued to kidnap women in the city.”