Islamic State fighters using human shields as they flee Manbij

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces recaptured the city

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| Image: STR / AP/Press Association Images

Images have emerged of Islamic State fighters using human shields to flee war-torn Manbij in Syria.

IS fighters escaped the city last week after it became clear that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces would recapture it.

Newly released aerial photos show more than 100 jihadists leaving the city, in the north of the country, in cars and trucks carrying civilian hostages.

Women and children were also forced to surround the vehicles in the pictures taken on 12 August, it is understood.
After spotting the civilians SDF fighters decided not to open fire.

US military spokesman Chris Garver said: "Civilians were observed in the convoy intermingled with fighters in every vehicle."

Colonel Garver added: "We had to treat them all as noncombatants. We didn't shoot, we kept watching."

"We have repeatedly mentioned the care that our partnered forces were taking to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, so the partnered forced on the ground did not engage the convoy."

Hundreds of civilians forced into the convoy were released on 13 August, while others escaped. Colonel Garver said the jihadists, who went north and split up after leaving Manbij, are being tracked by coalition forces.

Their escape comes two months after around 175 IS fighters were killed as they attempted to flee Fallujah in Iraq.
"During the fight for Manbij civilians were repeatedly put in harm's way," Colonel Garver said.

He added: "They kept throwing civilians to basically walk into the line of fire, trying to get them shot, to use that potentially as propaganda."

Armed Forces Minister Mike Penning welcomed the recapture of Manbij. Mr Penning said: "Manbij's liberation is a significant development in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

"The RAF supported the liberation with airstrikes over recent weeks, alongside our coalition partners. We thank all our armed forces for their ongoing commitment and bravery in this vitally important fight."