Syria: protests break out in ISIS-held town

Residents of the ISIS-held northern Syrian town of Manbij, Aleppo governorate, have carried out unprecedented protests against jihadist rule, according to activists. Posts on the Manbij Mubasher Facebook page indicate that several small protest gatherings had taken place in the town on Nov. 12. "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. "Demonstrations took place on the Jarablus road and several streets [in the town] in the form of small gatherings, which the group met with gunfire and arrests."

The posts detailed ISIS abuses the sparked the protests. "The group has prevented residents from traveling and killed a number of citizens on various charges," it said. "It has also taken away a number of the city’s sons on the pretext of [enrolling them in] sharia courses only for their families to discover later that they were killed in Kweiris and northern rural Aleppo after being forced to fight by the group." It concluded hopefully: "The city is seeing an unprecedented state of popular unrest."

Syrian opposition news outlet also reported the protests. Citing a source from the town, the account said the demonstrations had taken place after "major harassment of civilians and the continual arrest of men and women." An activist named as Abu Yaman al-Halabi said the demonstration's "main goal was to make [ISIS] leave the city using peaceful means. It was organized by civilians after the huge repression they have been subjected to by the group." He added: "Two of the demonstrators were arrested while the rest took flight yesterday after the protest was fired upon by the group in the city's northern streets."

The Kurdish ANHA News Agency also quoted a source from inside Manbij as saying: "In recent days, ISIS mercenaries have begun kidnapping Kurdish and Arab women in the city on the pretext that their husbands support the Free Syrian Army… Two days ago, Manbij locals took part in a demonstration criticizing the practices by ISIS's mercenaries against the city's women, but the mercenaries attacked the demonstrators with live bullets, killing several civilians, injuring tens and kidnapping a number of men…. ISIS's mercenaries have continued to kidnap women in the city." (Now, Lebanon, Nov. 16)

We have noted that the unarmed civil resistance that is active throughout Syria even has a presence in ISIS-controlled territory. We have also noted the potential for a Sunni uprising against ISIS—which has, in fact happened before. Sunni Arab tribes have recently joined with the Kurdish-led anti-ISIS forces in northern Syria. We continue to see indigenous resistance as the best bet to defeat ISIS, and urge proressives in the West: Take heart, and offer any encouragement to the good guys in the Middle East.

  1. Guerilla resistance against ISIS

    Al-Araby Al-Jadeed runs a report on the "White Shroud," a commando unit linked to the FSA that is actually waging guerilla resistance behind ISIS lines in Deir az-Zour governorate. The report says that over the past 10 days, they have stepped up their attacks on ISIS militants and earlier this week managed to kidnap a number of the group's religious police—"sharia law enforcers."