Arab and Kurdish troops on Friday reclaimed the Syrian city of Manbij from the Islamic State group, freeing more than 2,000 civilians the militants had kept hostage. According to human rights groups, Islamic State fighters had abducted the citizens and used them as human shields while they retreated from the city after the Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the United States, started gaining control of the area.

The militants had forced the citizens, many of whom were children, into 500 cars and tried to leave the city. According to Sharfan Darwish, a representative of the Manbij military council, which is allied with the SDF, “The city is now fully under our control but we are undertaking sweeping operations.”