US-led international coalition warplanes killed more than 160 civilians on Tuesday, mostly women and children, in the village of al-Tukhar 12km north of Manbij that is officially under Islamic State control.
The bombing came as media activists launched the Manjib is Being Wiped Out campaign to shed light on the massacres occurring in Manbij and nearby villages.
“The bombardment destroyed more than 50 houses, around 75 percent of the small village,” a source who preferred anonymity told the Syrian Voice’s correspondent in Aleppo.
“Only 400 people live in the village. Surviving residents have removed 90 bodies from under the rubble, and attempts are ongoing to remove the rest.”
Civil Defense teams and residents are trying to extract the remaining dead with hand-held tools as international coalition planes fly overhead.
The same village was struck by international coalition warplanes on Monday, killing 15 civilians. The village has “disappeared” and entire families have been “wiped out” between the two attacks, said the source.
A resident from the village told the Syrian Voice that “al-Tukhar is the dividing line between IS-controlled areas, and the areas recently captured by the SDF.”
“The SDF recently took land along the southern bank of the al-Sajur river, whereas al-Tukhar falls on the northern bank, and is technically in an area of IS control, but there are no soldiers inside,” said the resident.
“The international coalition bombed three important bridges forty five days ago, which connect the northern and southern banks,” he added.
Khalid al-Ahmed, an opposition fighter originally from Manbij and now based in the northern Aleppo countryside, said that “the goal of the systematic killing and destruction carried out by the SDF, with international coalition support, is to force Arabs to leave the area, in order to hand it over to the Kurds to establish their state.”
“700,000 people left Manbij and its countryside over the past two months, fleeing for opposition controlled areas; some made it to Turkey, and the rest settled in Arab villages in the Maskena countryside or other areas,” he said. The Syrian Voice could not independently confirm the number of IDPs from Manbij.
A number of international organizations have accused the SDF of engaging in forced displacement against Arabs in northeastern and northern Syria. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused the People’s Protection Units, the main component of the SDF, of forcibly displacing Arabs in the Aleppo, al-Hasakah, and al-Raqqa countrysides, in a report last March.
International humanitarian law forbids forced displacement of civilians during armed conflicts, except to ensure their safety, and guarantees the right of return as soon as danger has passed.
“The SDF really did carry out forced displacement across various areas of al-Raqqa and al-Hasakah and the Aleppo countryside, but never allowed residents the right of return, although battles have ended in those areas and IS has left,” said the source.