We had concluded an agreement with the Islamic State

Upon an agreement, the SDF let IS leave Mansoura.

Raqqa East front, Septembre 13th 2017

Follow up of my previous post.

The first of June, it had been three days already since we had entered Mansoura, and since we had been holding the same defensive position next to the main road leading to the city centre. The exchanges of fire between our troops and those of the Islamic State were frequent, but the fighting was not very intense, particularly for my unit, which is neither a unit of snipers, nor of mine-clearers, nor of heavy weapons.

Since the middle of the day, a rumour had been circulating that the jihadists had given up. My Kurdish had improved, so I could understand that we had found an agreement with the Islamic State: they would leave the city, abandon their heavy material and munitions, and we would let them slip away to Raqqa.

In the first place, I was a bit disturbed by these news… but here, things differ quiet a bit from the western anti-terrorist mystique (“It’s impossible to negotiate with terrorists!”) and from fantasies about what a revolution should be like; here, we are in a war situation. I will deepen this point in another post.

A pitiful caravan of jihadists

My thoughts only reached that far when all of sudden a comrade rushed towards us and ordered to hide inside the building.

I quickly understood why. Only a few seconds later, in a cloud of dust, a long row of enemy vehicles appeared on the road that we were supervising, heading towards Raqqa. What a tight situation: we were only 10 YPG at this place, facing 150 to 200 soldiers of the caliphate passing by only one hundred meters from us. Might as well say that, if anything went wrong, we were dead.

But it was obvious that this pitiful caravan of retreating jihadists did not have any interest in things turning bad. For their escape they had seized anything with wheels: motorcycles, tractors, damaged cars, pickup truck and even a backhoe loader that was transporting some combatants in its shovel.

This scenic cortege immediately made me think of a story my grand-mother used to tell me: the difference between the German army proudly entering her city in 1940, in straight rows and shiny uniforms, and the same army fleeing in 1944, taking with them anything they could carry except their dignity.

The inhabitants of Mansoura - that I was about to meet – must have felt similar emotions.