Mass jubilation engulfed the northern Syrian city of Manbij after months of battles and grief. Both residents who had stayed in the city and those who only just returned after hearing the news have been openly expressing joy at getting their homes and freedom back.
Embraces and kisses, happy smiles, and even more happy tears have been seen on Manbij’s streets, as this video and these pictures show, with whole-hearted laughter and words of gratitude heard on every corner.
Children, as children do, played football and enjoyed themselves, albeit in apocalyptic-looking surroundings.
An RT Arabic crew visiting the former Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold captured the destruction left by the fighting. Their video shows dozens of homes nearly razed to the ground, piles of debris littering the streets, severely damaged infrastructure riddled with bullets holes, and large holes rent by bombs in almost every building.
“It was complicated for us to save civilians from the area, but we did it. Terrorists are now fleeing. We will go after them no matter where they are heading to,” said one of the female soldiers with the YPJ, which contributed greatly to the liberation of the city, to RT.
During their rule, IS jihadists imposed a hardline version of Islam, mandating strict social restrictions on Manbij’s residents.
SDF soldiers have brought in supplies and are distributing them among the population, adding to the joys of the day.
Celebrations in solidarity with Manbij are also held in other cities across Syria, as these Twitter posts attest.
Celebrating starts in kobani pic.twitter.com/6MOb4Ptpqv
— Wladimir (@vvanwilgenburg) August 12, 2016
— Dr Partizan (@DrPartizan_) August 12, 2016
Arab and Kurdish fighters from SDF announced the full liberation of Manbij on Friday after successfully conducting the final assault on the IS-held al-Sirb neighborhood. During this assault, they rescued some 2,000 civilians who had been abducted by the jihadists as they were being driven out of Manjib to be used as “human shields.” Citing a source from the Syrian army, AFP news agency reported that, while some of the abducted residents were able to escape themselves, some, surprisingly, “were freed” by the fleeing terrorists.
Manbij was a key transit point on the route between the Turkish border and Raqqa, the Syrian city proclaimed capital of the jihadists’ “Islamic caliphate.” The SDF launched its offensive on the city on May 31, with air support from the US-led coalition. The army was able to seize Manjib only two and a half months later, on Aug 6, while still driving terrorists out of some parts of the town. Manbij residents had endured a total of 73 days of constant fighting when the allied forces were driving out the jihadists street by street.