Hundreds of ISIS militants who fled Manbij with civilians head towards Turkish border.(Rudaw).
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The anti-Islamic State (ISIS) international coalition is tracking hundreds of militants whom they believe fled the Syrian town of Manbij with the civilian population shortly before its liberation by rebel forces last week.
“Civilians were observed in the convoy intermingled with fighters in every vehicle,” coalition spokesman Colonel Chris Garver said, according to AFP.
Col. Garver believes that 100-200 ISIS militants managed to flee Manbij hidden among civilians or human shields that the group took with them as fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made their way into the city.
“We're keeping track of them. I don't want to talk too much about that. It's an ongoing operation,” Col. Garver said.
The ISIS fighters tracked by the coalition forces are said to have fled north towards the Turkish border, parts of which is still under the group’s control.
Col. Garver was quoted as saying that convoys seen leaving Manbij were not fired on by the coalition or the SDF as was done against the group’s convoy in Fallujah, because the convoys carried a mix of militants and civilians.
“We had to treat them all as noncombatants. We didn't shoot. We kept watching,” he told reporters.
Col. Garver said that the ISIS militants had deliberately tried to “put civilians in harm’s way,” during the SDF advance into the city of Manbij.
“They kept throwing civilians to basically walk into the line of fire, trying to get them shot, to use that potentially as propaganda, we think,” he said, adding “We have repeatedly mentioned the care that our partnered forces were taking to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, so the partnered forces on the ground did not engage the convoy.” Hmmmm.....Lets give them free visa travel to Europe?
Anti-ISIS Coalition spox Garver specifically does not want to say if ISIS fled to Turkey. OK https://t.co/BsuJtH9cBr pic.twitter.com/aUpyx61LPC— ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) August 17, 2016