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IS executes 24 people in 24 hours after seizing village in north Syria

Despite being under heavy pressure in Manbij for months, monitor says IS launched a 'fierce' counter-offensive near Manbij
SDF fighters attend the funeral of eight fellow fighters who died during an assault against IS in Manbij, on 24 June (AFP)

The Islamic State group has executed at least 24 civilians in the last 24 hours after seizing a village in northern Syria, close to the flashpoint town of Manbij, a monitor said on Friday.

The village was in the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance mainly of Syrian Kurdish forces but also some local Arab fighters, but fell to IS on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

After storming Buyir, some 10 kilometres northwest of Manbij, IS began rounding up and executing villagers, killing 24 civilians in the “last 24 hours”.

IS launched a “fierce” counter-offensive near Manbij on Thursday and has now captured several villages, the UK-based observatory said.

The militants have been besieged in the strategically key northern Syrian town of Manbij for weeks, with the SDF, flanked by US-led anti-IS coalition air strikes, putting a great deal of pressure on what was the last-IS held pocket in southern Manbij.

MEE contributor Wladimir van Wilgenburg who was on the frontline yesterday, said that heavy fighting was raging for much of the day. Borrowing tactics used elsewhere in Syria and Iraq, IS has fought back with suicide bombers and car bombs and has been accused of using civilians as human shields. 

Reporters have now been temporarily stopped from going to the frontlines due to safety concerns. 

“They [IS] committed a massacre in Buyir and Musherfet al-Buyir villages, 11km west of Manbij,” Idris Nassan, a former Kurdish official, confirmed to MEE. 

“They are targeting all liberated villages and take revenge on all people accusing them of collaborating with SDF.”

According to Nassan, IS forces from other parts of Syria are believed to have penetrated SDF lines in an attempt to break the siege on Manbij. 

This is not the first time that IS forces have massacred local civilians. On 17 July, IS fighters dressed as civilians killed dozens of villagers in the Kurdish village of Saikol, in the countryside of the Syrian border town of Kobane. 

Coalition air strikes in support of the Manbij offensive have also been accused of killing civilians. Last week, the US announced that there was enough evidence for it to probe allegations that a single air strike on 19 July could have killed anywhere from 11 to more than 200 people. 

- Additional reporting by Wladimir van Wilgenburg