Aid & Development

2 years on from the liberation of Manbij, northern Syria


Citizens of the northern Syrian city of Manbij express their happiness on the anniversary of the liberation of their city. Since the expulsion of ISIS, economic dynamism has been picking up in Manbij as the security situation over the past 2 years has improved. 

The residents of the city of Manbij are celebrating the two-year anniversary of the liberation of Manbij from ISIS control. On the 15th of August 2016, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defeated ISIS in an offensive that took almost three months to complete. Despite its liberation two years ago, the citizens of the city continue to remember the horrors that they lived through during ISIS’ occupation. “During ISIS’ occupation of the city, we faced hunger and lack of food products. All schools were not functioning during that time,” said Hajj Issa, a resident of Manbij. “However, after the liberation of Manbij, the residents of Manbij joined forces with each other and were united to achieve security and schools were reopened.”

In addition to suffering from hunger and the lack of food, the residents of Manbij were tortured and imprisoned by ISIS. “This day [the liberation of Manbij] must be remembered forever because [under ISIS’ rule] life was miserable,” said Hajj Issa.

The citizens of Manbij have attempted to bring back life to their city and return a sense of normalcy to it. “After the liberation, markets have opened, and the civil councils have cleaned the city from mines,” says Aimen Abdulsalam, a resident of Manbij. “The city has returned to normal and is even better than before in terms of electricity and water.”

While the city has seen improved security since the liberation from ISIS, the city witnessed some unrest as tensions between the SDF and advancing Turkish forces arose in June of this year. Following the tensions between the SDF and Turkey, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss a roadmap for the city. The roadmap included the retreat of the SDF and the establishment of local councils made up of the local population.

Since this agreement went into effect, the area has been relatively calm as resident’s attempt to resume their normal lives.

“Two years after the liberation of the city…you see the improvement which has occurred in the city,” says a citizen with delight.