Thirty-eight days have passed since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began their siege of 1,000 Islamic State fighters 200,000 civilians remaining in Manbij city.
“Manbij’s parks have turned to graves in order to absorb the city’s dead—both civilians and soldiers with Daesh (the Islamic State),” a city resident who requested anonymity told the Syrian Voice.
“The public park has been turned into temporary housing for families that fled western and southeastern parts of the city where the SDF advanced,” he said.
Stores of medical supplies and food in Manbij are dwindling as the siege drags on. People use water and electricity like hard currency, because US-led international coalition bombing has knocked out the city’s infrastructure and municipal facilities.
Bodies lie exposed in the streets close to ongoing battles, but no one approaches them for fear of being shot by SDF snipers, the Manbij resident added. Residents are afraid that the corpses’ decay will causes diseases to spread.
Prices are rising inside the city, a second resident who preferred anonymity told the Syrian Voice.
“Vegetable prices have doubled. Sugar is now SP 1400 for a kilogram ($6.48), a 50kg bag of flour is SP 15,000 ($69.48), and 1km of tomatoes SP 4,000 ($18.53).”
Fuel has also become more expensive as supplies run low. A liter of diesel costs SP SP 700 ($3.24), while it was SP 80 ($.37) before the siege, and a liter of gas SP 1,600 ($7.41), while it was SP 150 ($.69) before the siege. Natural gas has been cut off entirely from the city.
Manbij residents enjoy two hours of electricity a day, down from eight hours before the siege, partly because of a lack of fuel to power generators. A single Ampere costs SP 100 ($.46) for an hour of use.
Some essential goods have retained their old price—a bag of bread costs SP 200 (.$93), although bread is hard to find because baking requires diesel, which is scarce. Residents have decent access to drinking water via wells.
As for the medical sector, more than 70 percent of pharmacies have closed, a civilian source from Manbij told the Syrian Voice.
“A number of medicines are lacking, anti-inflammatory medicine and medicine for children, and about 90 percent of doctors fled with everyone else a few days before the siege began, which has left a huge gap,” he said.
“The international coalition has killed around 200 civilians, including women and children, as their planes bomb Daesh headquarters.,” Mohammed al-Ahmed, a human rights activist, told the Syrian Voice.
The largest incident was the Auj Qana village massacre, when the coalition killed 23 civilians, most from a single family. Daesh has also killed dozens of civilians, most by sniping them as they try to flee for the countryside.”
Seven hundred thousand civilians have fled Manbij since the beginning of the fighting between the SDF and the Islamic State. Some have headed for neighboring villages, and others to Turkey.
The SDF has taken advantage of coalition air cover to capture of more than 35 percent of the city, in addition to roughly 200 nearby villages, the opposition political figure Dr. Hassan al-Naifi told the Syrian Voice.