| Screenshot, ANHA

Terrorists Flee in Drag as Syrian Kurds Close In

Three ISIS terrorists were arrested Friday disguised as women in the city of Manbij, Syria, where heavy fighting continues to gain control of the last large Syrian city on the path to the ISIS capital of Raqqa.

The terrorists attempted to slip through the cordon of Kurdish attackers dressed as women, according to a YouTube video posted by the news site Hawar. The men explain that they were trapped in the city and without ammunition, so they put on the long, conservative dresses and head coverings called niqabs.

One of the three terrorists, calling himself Abu Mohammed Al-Sufrani, said: “We were in our assigned positions near a fuel station when an airplane bombed the station, and we lost contact with our commanders. When we saw civilians leaving, we threw most of our weapons down because we didn’t have ammunition and we left with the civilians.”

Sufrani went on to say: “I  managed to cross the first [YPG, acronym for Kurdish translation of "People's Protection Units"] checkpoint because I had a gun  and the civilians didn’t dare talk, but in  the next checkpoint the people in the vehicle ahead of us informed the YPG, who arrested us.” 

He urged ISIS members "to throw down their weapons because this is not an Islamic State; it killed civilians. ISIS emirs gave us orders to kill any civilian who tries to leave. They told us that anyone who leaves the city is a terrorist and a murtad [someone who left Islam].”

When asked why he didn't try to to leave ISIS, the terrorist replied: “They told us it was an Islamic state, and we came from Safira [a town in Syria]. We didn’t have jobs there, and ISIS offered us $400 per month per person, then they started to give us $150 per month. They lied to us about giving us a lot of money, but eventually they were giving us $150. Sometimes they didn’t pay that. The emirs used to take all the money.”

The military forces pushing ISIS out of the city are predominantly Kurdish soldiers fighting in the Syrian Defense Force (SDF) of which the YPG is the largest component unit, according to Ali Sada, editor of Daesh Daily.

More than 40 Daesh terrorists were killed in the battles since Wednesday, according to Hawar. Manbij, is a city near Syria’s border with Turkey, where about 100,000 Sunni Muslims reside from Arab, Kurdish and Circassian origins. For weeks, coalition forces have besieged the city and have made as many as 400 airstrikes since the operation on the city began, according to Operation Inherent Resolve.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday that the tide of battle has shifted against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq but that stabilizing the newly liberated areas is the chief challenge of the international community. 

 “The momentum has shifted,” Kerry told an international conference to raise funds for Iraq at a critical juncture in the military campaign (as reported by Warren Strobel and Leslie Wroughton for Reuters). “The new challenge that we face is securing and aiding for the recovery of a liberated area."

The neighborhoods in Manbij remain heavily contested, according to Sada.

"The [Manbij Military Council, or MMC] gave the ISIS terrorists an opportunity to leave the city with their weapons and ammunition Thursday so that civilian lives could be saved,” Sada said. “But, instead of that, ISIS fighters counterattacked. They are desperate to hold onto Manbij, because after it goes down, the Syrian Defense Force and the MMC can attack Raqqa, the capital of the Caliphate. 

“To them Raqqa is more important to keep than Mosul in Iraq,” he added. 

Douglas Burton is a former U.S. State Department official in Kirkuk, Iraq and writes news and commentary from Washington, D.C. queries to Burtonnewsandviews@gmail.com call him at 202 203 9883.