Islamic State detains 900 Kurdish civilians in northern Syria
Published 24/06/2016 | 14:06
Islamic State group fighters have detained some 900 Kurds in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo over the past three weeks.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 900 civilians were detained near the IS-held town of Al-Bab.
Sherfan Darwish, spokesman for the US-backed predominantly-Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), said that over 900 were seized in retaliation for an SDF offensive on the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, stronghold of Manbij.
Darwish said: "Whenever Daesh is defeated they retaliate against civilians."
The Observatory and Darwish said some of the detainees were forced to dig trenches in IS-held areas while others are imprisoned in detention centres.
Darwish said all captured males above the age of 12 were sent against their will to the front lines to help fortify IS positions.
The Observatory said IS fighters stormed homes in several villages they control near Al-Bab, including Arab, Qabaseen and Nairabiyeh, and took with them mostly men.
In 2014, IS abducted nearly 200 Kurdish students near Manbij as they were en route from the Kurdish town of Kobani near the Syrian-Turkish border to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the provincial capital, to take their exams. Most were later released.
In February 2015, IS kidnapped more than 200 Christians from northeastern Syria. The Christians were released over a period of a year, after IS collected millions of dollars in ransom.
Opposition activists reported clashes inside Manbij on Friday and air strikes by the US-led coalition.
Since the offensive to take Manbij began last month, SDF fighters have captured dozens of villages and farms near the town, which is now surrounded from all side as SDF forces slowly push into Manbij.
The town lies along the only IS supply line between the Turkish border and the IS extremist group's self-styled capital, Raqqa. If Manbij is captured, it will be the biggest strategic defeat for IS in Syria since July 2015, when it lost the border town of Tal Abyad.
The battle of Manbij has so far claimed the lives of 81 SDF fighters and 463 extremists, according to the Observatory.