The offensive by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is pushing up against the key ISIS-held city of Manbij today, and the UN is warning that with some 20,000 already displaced in this latest offensive, over 200,000 more could soon follow.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the civilians are likely to face significant impediments in relocating from the contested city. Though early refugees are fleeing to the area around ISIS-held Jarabulous, others are expected to move further west toward al-Bab and Azaz, an area where ISIS is launching its own offensive, and sparking a whole different refugee crisis.
That’s been a recurring problem throughout the Syrian Civil War, with several millions having fled abroad and untold millions of others displaced internally, with new offensives meaning new displaced every day.
Though the YPG has insisted Manbij would retain local governance, Kurdish involvement in the offensive is fueling a lot of the exodus, with many fearing purges of the local Arab population if the city falls. Previous towns captured by the YPG have had reports of such purges.