ISIS ups security in restive Aleppo town: activists

A wave of protests have reportedly rocked the town of Manbij.

ISIS in Manbij. (AlFarough.com/ISIS media)

BEIRUT – ISIS has ramped up security measures in an Aleppo town witnessing a wave of protests against the extremist group, according to activist media.


The pro-opposition Al-Souria Net reported Thursday that ISIS had set-up checkpoints throughout Manbij and started a curfew for the restive town, which was first seized by ISIS in January 2014.


Reports emerged late last week that residents of Manbij had held an unprecedented set of protests against ISIS’ draconian policies in the Aleppo town.


A popular pro-rebel Facebook page reporting on events in Manbij and Syria in general said that several small protest gatherings had taken place in the town last Thursday and posted what it said were pictures of the unusual event.


“In response to the oppressive practices of ISIS against residents of the city of Manbij… tens of citizens came out to criticize the group last Thursday afternoon and called on it to leave the city,” Manbij Mubasher reported on Sunday.


“The city is seeing an unprecedented state of popular unrest.”


Protests reportedly continued in the following days, with a number of activist outlets saying that an angry resident had killed an ISIS judge before turning a firearm on himself and committing suicide before the group could capture him.


Security measures and new protests


Al-Souria’s Aleppo correspondent reported that ISIS on Wednesday enforced a curfew in Manbij after protests against it broke out for the third time in a week.


A local media activist told the outlet that the group had established dozens of checkpoints in central areas of the Aleppo town as well as its outskirts.


“It has also heavily deployed its members in the markets and the poor areas because of the repeated peaceful demonstrations by residents calling for it to leave Manbij,” Mohammed Ahmed said.


“Civilians demonstrated yesterday in the Al-Hazzawina neighborhood in the center of the town demanding that the group’s departure,” he said in reference to a new protest Wednesday.


“The latter responded by attacking the demonstration and opening fire on those taking part, some of whom fled.”


“The group [then] enforced a curfew that extended from 8:00 p.m. to dawn today and its members removed anti-ISIS graffiti that had been drawn on several shops last summer, painting new drawings over it.”


The Erbil-based ARA News—which focuses on northern Syrian developments—also reported on the protests that allegedly rocked Manbij on Wednesday, but said they were sparked by criticisms over the group’s recent military setbacks.


A rural Aleppo media activist told the outlet that the nighttime rally in the town’s Al-Hazzawina quarter was in protest over ISIS’s retreat from outside Kuweires Airbase outside Aleppo following a successful regime offensive earlier November.


“The participants expressed their fear that all of eastern rural Aleppo might be handed over to regime forces, including the towns of Manbij and Al-Bab,” Wael Mohammad claimed.


He also said the residents demonstrated “out of fear of the air strikes that international coalition and regime warplanes planes are carrying out, which could lead to a massacre of civilians.”


“ISIS members responded to the demonstration by opening fire and pursuing the demonstrators. There has been no news of anyone being detained.”

ISIS in Manbij. (AlFarough.com/ISIS media)

ISIS members responded to the demonstration by opening fire and chasing the demonstrators.