GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Residents of Manbij, in Aleppo's countryside, tell of heinous crimes and difficult living conditions at the hands of Islamic State (IS) fighters. The residents say that the number of people who are stuck in IS-controlled areas and who wish to escape is much larger than those who managed to flee.
Hussein al-Awad is one of those who fled and recently made it to the Aleppo Road, located south of the city and currently under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He told Al-Monitor about his older brother Abdullah who decided to leave Manbij, where fierce battles have been taking place since May 31, accompanied by their neighbor Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed. On July 1, they took a side road in order to reach the area controlled by the SDF.