The Syrian Democratic Forces’ major offensive in northeastern Aleppo has entered its third week with more than 100 villages and towns already seized from ISIL.
Reports indicate that the Syrian Democratic Forces have encircled Menbij town and surrounding villages, potentially cutting off all flight routes for civilians living inside the town. Based on limited information, it is estimated up to 65,000 civilians may remain in Menbij town.
Since the beginning of the offensive, it is estimated that some 46,855 individuals have been displaced as a result of fighting in Menbij sub-district, most of whom appear to have remained within Menbij sub-district. Reports indicate others moved to other ISIL-held areas in Jarablus,
Ghandora, Maskana, Al-Khafsa and Al-Bab sub-districts.
The Government of Syria has concurrently staged military operations south of Ath-Thawra town (40 km south of Ar-Raqqa) which to date led to the displacement of 9,000 individuals from several villages in the area of the fighting.
As of 15 June, reports indicate that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have exerted control over main supply routes between Jarablous, Menbij and Al Bab City, completely encircling Menbij town after recent gains in Sheikh Yehya, Big Madneh, Um Elsafa and Tal Akhdar. As such, all roads in and out of Menbij town have been cut off by the SDF, potentially trapping an estimated 65,000 individuals who decided to remain in the town despite approaching hostilities. An SDF spokesperson stated that at the onset of the military operations, the SDF recommended that civilians leave Menbij town and the surrounding villages, and a sufficient period of time was given to civilians to leave. However, it appears, many have remained in the town, and potentially some people from the surrounding villages, moved into Menbij town. Since the encirclement of Menbij town, no reports have been received on civilians attempting to leave the town, nor of any civilian being denied exit by the SDF or ISIL.
Although hostilities continue around Menbij town, intensity in fighting has notably decreased, according to reports. Rapid advancement by SDF coupled with little resistance from ISIL in many villages has caused no major displacement in mentioned areas.
Since the beginning of the SDF’s offensive to exert control over Menbij town, unconfirmed reports suggest that 49 civilians were killed as a result of airstrikes, while 19 people were killed by exchange of fire.
Elsewhere in the Ar Raqqa governorate, Syria government forces have launched a new military campaign to establish control over Ath-Thawrah town, including its strategic dam and military airbase.
Displacement and Response
Since the beginning of the offensive on 31 May, it is estimated that up to 46,855 individuals have been displaced as a result of fighting in Menbij sub-district. Based on unconfirmed local reporting, the majority of whom (est. 30,000) appear to have remained in the sub-district, meanwhile the rest fled to other ISILheld sub-districts such as Jarablus (est. 9,900), Ghandora (est. 2,500), Maskana (est. 2,100), Khafsa (est.
120) and Al-Bab (est. 4,200) sub-districts. Concerns have been raised for the remaining population of 60,000 people in Menbij town, who potentially have remained in the location, as an escalation in fighting may intensify in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, in the southern countryside of Ar-Raqqa governorate, ongoing military operations by Syrian Government Forces has to date led to the displacement of an estimated 9,000 people from several small villages south of Ath-Thawrah town. As a result, the majority of civilians have been displaced to Western Salhabyeih and Kderian towns in the eastern countryside of Ar-Raqqa governorate. Based on previous trends in the area, it is assumed that Ath-Thawrah town’s population – estimated at 67,000 – will face risk of further displacement.
Due to insecurity and limited humanitarian access, the humanitarian response to the above-mentioned displacement has been virtually non-existent. There are very few humanitarian partners that operate in ISIL-held areas. This has created a situation whereby little can be accomplished by humanitarian partners operating in areas adjacent to Menbij, such as in the A’zaz sub-district and Al-Hasakeh governorate where many humanitarian partners are currently running operations.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.