“According to the Muslim faith, if someone tries to apostate, he or she could be killed”

Islamic apologists in the West, both Muslim and non-Muslim, routinely deny that Islam has a death penalty for those who leave Islam. They also deny that Islam allows for child marriage. How is it that so many Muslims in Pakistan have misunderstood their own faith? Says the local police chief in the article below: “The Muslims living in the area said nobody is allowed to go back to his or her old religion after embracing Islam. According to the Muslim faith, if someone tries to apostate, he or she could be killed.” And later on, the Washington Post informs us that Pakistan is “a country with no law against child marriage.”


“They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)

A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated: “The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-‘ashriyyah, Al-Ja’fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”

Qaradawi also once famously said: “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”

Child marriage:

Few things are more abundantly attested in Islamic law than the permissibility of child marriage. Islamic tradition records that Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was six when Muhammad wedded her and nine when he consummated the marriage:

“The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)” (Bukhari 7.62.88).

Another tradition has Aisha herself recount the scene:

The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Bukhari 5.58.234).

Muhammad was at this time fifty-four years old.

Marrying young girls was not all that unusual for its time, but because in Islam Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21), he is considered exemplary in this unto today. And so in April 2011, the Bangladesh Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini declared that those trying to pass a law banning child marriage in that country were putting Muhammad in a bad light: “Banning child marriage will cause challenging the marriage of the holy prophet of Islam, [putting] the moral character of the prophet into controversy and challenge.” He added a threat: “Islam permits child marriage and it will not be tolerated if any ruler will ever try to touch this issue in the name of giving more rights to women.” The Mufti said that 200,000 jihadists were ready to sacrifice their lives for any law restricting child marriage.

Likewise the influential website Islamonline.com in December 2010 justified child marriage by invoking not only Muhammad’s example, but the Qur’an as well:

The Noble Qur’an has also mentioned the waiting period [i.e. for a divorced wife to remarry] for the wife who has not yet menstruated, saying: “And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women, if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated” [Qur’an 65:4]. Since this is not negated later, we can take from this verse that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl. The Qur’an is not like the books of jurisprudence which mention what the implications of things are, even if they are prohibited. It is true that the prophet entered into a marriage contract with A’isha when she was six years old, however he did not have sex with her until she was nine years old, according to al-Bukhari.

Other countries make Muhammad’s example the basis of their laws regarding the legal marriageable age for girls. Article 1041 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that girls can be engaged before the age of nine, and married at nine: “Marriage before puberty (nine full lunar years for girls) is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interests of the ward are duly observed.”

According to Amir Taheri in The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution (pp. 90-91), Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight. Khomeini called marriage to a prepubescent girl “a divine blessing,” and advised the faithful to give their own daughters away accordingly: “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house.” When he took power in Iran, he lowered the legal marriageable age of girls to nine, in accord with Muhammad’s example.

Qaradawi apostasy

“A Pakistani girl ran away and converted to Islam. Now she cannot go back to her family,” by Tim Craig, Washington Post, June 20, 2016 (thanks to David):

The Kalash community is known as one of Pakistan’s most peaceful and mystical. Its members wear colorful gowns, practice their own religion and live in the shadows of mountains near Chitral, a tourist resort in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

For centuries, the Kalash community has lived trouble-free alongside their Muslim neighbors. But all that changed last week when a 15-year-old girl wandered away from her family and ended up at an Islamic seminary.

According to police and local officials, Rina showed up at the seminary and said she wanted to convert to Islam. The local cleric embraced her and started reading her the Koran. After a few hours, the cleric declared that Rina had converted to Islam, which entails reciting a pledge that there is “no God but Allah. The prophet Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

The next morning, according to police, Rina’s parents and other members of the Kalash tribe went looking for her. They found her at the seminary and demanded that she return home, noting she is only in the ninth grade and too young to leave her parents.

What happened next underscores the combustible role that religion can play in rural Pakistan. There often is no safe way for a Muslim person in Pakistan to abandon Islam.

The Muslim inhabitants of the area, who form a majority of the population, claimed that Rina converted voluntarily. They refused to hand her over to her parents, saying Rina was now and should forever be considered a Muslim.

A fight broke out. As stones and punches were thrown, the fighting quickly escalated into a bloody battle involving hundreds of villagers.

At one point, the violence became so intense that police began firing bullets into the air to try to disperse the crowds, the BBC reported.

“The Muslims living in the area said nobody is allowed to go back to his or her old religion after embracing Islam,” said Asif Iqbal, the local police chief. “According to the Muslim faith, if someone tries to apostate, he or she could be killed.”

Indeed, throughout history, many branches of Islam have considered apostasy a capital offense. A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Pakistanis believe that leaving Islam should be punishable by death.

Pakistan’s criminal code makes no direct reference to apostasy, although many legal experts believe a Pakistani Muslim who tried to leave that religion would be vulnerable to blasphemy charges. The country’s blasphemy law makes insulting the prophet Muhammad — even by innuendo — punishable by imprisonment or death….

As the fighting dragged into Friday, local authorities decided to haul Rina before a judge. During the court appearance, Rina “confessed that she embraced Islam of her own will,” said Abdul Mufttah, a police officer.

The judge ruled that Rina was an official convert to Islam, effectively severing ties between her and her family. Religious diversity among the same family is rare in Pakistan, especially in rural communities.

And in a country with no law against child marriage, a wedding between Rina and a local Muslim boy or man is likely to be arranged soon….

Islamic State expels Syria regime forces from Raqqa province

Nothing to be concerned about. The Pentagon assures us they’re losing, and they wouldn’t lie to us, now, would they?

Islamic State 190

“ISIS Expels Syria Regime Forces From Raqqa Province,” AFP, June 21, 2016:

(AFP) — ISIS expelled Syrian regime troops Monday from the northern province of Raqqa in a lightning counter-offensive that killed 40 regime forces, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants’ attack was launched late on Sunday following a regime offensive into the ISIS stronghold of Raqa on June 3 that advanced around 20 kilometers (12 miles) toward the town of Tabqa.

“Daesh (ISIS) has managed to drive out regime troops from the administrative borders of Raqa province after a fierce counter-offensive,” the Britain-based group said.

It said the militants had sent hundreds of reinforcements from their de facto capital of Raqa city to defend Tabqa, which has a dam and an air base, located 50 kilometers to the west.

“More than 40 members of the pro-regime forces were killed,” said the Observatory, which relies on a vast network of sources on the ground for its information.

Militant losses were unavailable….

Reading the Qur’an during Ramadan 17: Juz Aqtaraba

Respect Quran

After several suras have recounted the message and reception of various prophets in strikingly similar terms, sura 21, “The Prophets,” discusses the phenomenon of prophecy and the way it is received in general (usually with scoffing). It also touches on several prophets specifically, including Abraham, David, Solomon, Job, and Zechariah. Sura 21 is a late Meccan sura, and was revealed against the backdrop of the ongoing strife between Muhammad and the leaders of the pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca — a tribe of which Muhammad was a member, but which had rejected his prophetic claim. This sura is full of both direct and implied references to their skepticism, as well as replies to their objections.

In verses 1-47 Allah speaks generally of how the unbelievers always scorn the signs of his creative power, and the messages of the prophets. We hear their dismissals of Muhammad’s prophetic pretensions, and in vv. 4, 24, 42 and 45, Allah tells Muhammad what to say to them. The unbelievers claim that Muhammad is bringing witchcraft, and assume that to be a prophet he would have to be “more than a man like yourselves” (v. 3). But the earlier prophets were just ordinary men, as the unbelievers can discover by asking the Jews and Christians (“those who possess the Message”) (vv. 7-8).

The unbelievers say that Muhammad is a poet who has invented the Qur’an, and that if he were really a prophet he would work a miracle (v. 5). But Allah has destroyed entire populations in the past (v. 6) and has done what he promised to do, and saved “those whom We pleased, but We destroyed those who transgressed beyond bounds” (v. 9). Now Allah has revealed a book with a message for mankind — that is, the Qur’an (v. 10). And this is no game: Allah didn’t create everything just to play (v. 16). If he had wanted to do find a pastime, he “could have found it in Our presence” (v. 17). That is, according to the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, “Had We desired to find some diversion, that which provides diversion, in the way of a partner or a child, We would have found it with Ourselves, from among the beautiful-eyed houris or angels.” The “beautiful-eyed houris” are the fabled virgins of Paradise.

But instead, in a jarringly violent image, “We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood perishes!” (v. 18). Even the beings that stand in Allah’s presence aren’t too proud to serve him (vv. 19-20). The unbelievers can’t be right that their objects of worship are really gods besides Allah, because this multiplicity would create confusion not only in heaven, but also on earth (v. 22) — a verse that may reveal why Islamic societies have always tended toward authoritarianism and never been hospitable to democracy.

Allah, meanwhile, the absolute ruler, “cannot be questioned for His acts” (v. 23). Says Ibn Kathir: “He is the Ruler Whose rule cannot be overturned and none can object to it, because of His might, majesty, pride, knowledge, wisdom, justice and subtlety.” Those who say “Allah has begotten offspring” (v. 26) are not just the Christians, but the pagan Arabs who worshipped the daughters of Allah — whom we shall hear more about later, notably in sura 53. Allah’s servants — that is, the prophets — intercede only for those who are acceptable to him (v. 28), and if any of those servants claimed to be a god, he would be go to hell (v. 29).

Haven’t the unbelievers realized the signs of Allah’s creating hand in the things of this earth (vv. 30-33)? Yet they dare to ridicule Muhammad (v. 36), heedless of the fact that the Day of Judgment will inevitably come (vv. 37-44). Everyone will be dealt with justly on that Day, and his smallest good deed, even the size of a mustard seed, will not go unnoticed (v. 47).

Then in verses 48-93, Allah cites some of the significant events in the lives of some of the prophets, again with numerous parallels to Muhammad’s own situation with the Quraysh. Allah gave Moses and Aaron the criterion (al-furqan, الْفُرْقَانَ) (v. 48) — that is, the true guidance. Al-furqan is in Islamic tradition identified with the Qur’an itself, but here it applies to the earlier prophetic message — the Torah that was delivered to Moses. In Islamic tradition both the Torah and the Gospel were identical in substance with the Qur’an before they was corrupted by the perverse and unbelieving followers of Moses and Jesus.

Allah then returns to the story of Abraham, once again recounting his refusal to worship his father’s idols (vv. 51-73). He confronts the idolaters of his own people, who scoff at him in just the way that the Quraysh have scoffed at Muhammad. They even go so far as to try to burn him to death, but Allah makes the fire cool and saves his prophet (vv. 68-69). Then follow in quick succession brief references to Lot (vv. 74-75); Noah (vv. 76-77); David and Solomon (vv. 78-82); Job (vv. 83-84); Ishmael, Idris (Enoch), and Dhul-Kifl (Ezekiel) (v. 85); Dhu’n-Nun (Jonah) (vv. 87-88); Zechariah (vv. 89-90); and Mary and Jesus (v. 91), all of whom, we are reminded here, remained faithful to Allah through various kinds of difficulty and distress (and, often, scorn from unbelievers). All shared a single religion, Islam (v. 92), although those who followed after these prophets “have broken their religion (into fragments)” (v. 93). The original religion of all the prophets was Islam, and when someone claims to follow one of those prophets — Abraham, Moses, Jesus — but rejects Islam, he is rejecting the true message of those prophets in favor of a later corrupted version.

Allah then warns of the Judgment Day (vv. 94-112). When Gog and Magog are let loose (see sura 18:94), then the unbelievers will realize that all this was true (v. 97). As they enter hell, they will see that their false gods are useless to keep them out of it (vv. 98-100). But the believers will not suffer any of this, or even hear the damned screaming in hell; instead, the angels will greet them (vv. 101-103). Allah will produce a new creation in the same way that he produced the first one (v. 104). The righteous — i.e., the Muslims — will inherit the earth (v. 105). The Qur’an is a message for those who want to worship Allah (v. 106), and Muhammad is sent “as a mercy for all creatures” (v. 107). Muhammad should tell the people that he has delivered the warning he was commanded to deliver, but he doesn’t know when the promised Judgment will come (v. 109).

Islamic scholars are divided over whether sura 22 dates from the Meccan or Medinan period of Muhammad’s prophetic career. Ibn Kathir and Maulana Muhammad Ali say it’s Meccan, while the Tafsir Anwar ul-Bayan, Daryabadi and others say it’s Medinan. Maududi splits the difference by noting a stylistic change between verses 1-24 and verses 25-78, and postulating that the first part comes from Mecca and the second from Medina.

Allah issues in verses 1-24 another warning about the dreadful Day of Judgment (vv. 1-2, 4, 7) and excoriation of the perversity of the unbelievers (vv. 3, 5-6, 8-13). The righteous will be admitted to luxuriant Gardens (vv. 14, 23-24). Those who doubt that Allah will help Muhammad in this world and the next should hang themselves (v. 15). “This,” says Ibn Kathir, “was also the view of Mujahid, Ikrimah, Ata, Abu Al-Jawza, Qatadah and others. The meaning is: whoever thinks that Allah will not support Muhammad and His Book and His Religion, let him go and kill himself if it annoys him so much.” Allah has sent down clear signs — a reference to the verses (ayat, or signs) of the Qur’an — and guides to the truth those whom he wills to guide (v. 16). Jews, Christians, and others will all be judged (v. 17); “Allah will decide on the Day of Judgement between them,” says Maulana Bulandshahri in the Tafsir Anwar ul-Bayan, “and disclose to them that only the Muslims were guided aright.”

Even the sun, moon, stars, and all created beings worship Allah (v. 18). In fact, Muhammad was once asked where the sun went when it set. He replied: “It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted.” How dreadful will the Judgment and hellfire be? Allah luridly describes the horrors of hell — scalding water, iron whips (vv. 19-22). According to a hadith, Muhammad says that 999 out of every thousand people will be sent to hell. On that Day, Adam will ask Allah: “O Allah! How many are the people of the Fire?” Allah will answer: “From every one thousand, take out nine-hundred-and ninety-nine.” Muhammad explained that that one person saved would be a Muslim, telling his companions: “Rejoice with glad tidings; one person will be from you and one-thousand will be from Gog and Magog.”

Maududi suggests that verses 25-78 were revealed not long after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina, and around the time of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, were feeling particularly homesick. The pagan Quraysh controlled Mecca at that time, and had barred the Muslims from making the pilgrimage. “Therefore, they might even have been praying for and expecting Divine permission to wage war against those tyrants who had expelled them from their homes and deprived them of visiting the House of Allah and made it difficult for them to follow the way of Islam. It was at this psychological occasion that these verses were sent down.”

Those who are keeping the Muslims from making the pilgrimage will suffer a grievous punishment (v. 25). Allah directed Abraham to the site for the Sacred Mosque in Mecca and told him that it would be a place of pilgrimage for those who believe in Allah and do not associate partners with him (vv. 26-31). All people should perform sacrificial rites, sacrificing animals to Allah (vv. 32-38).

Those who have been expelled from their homes and victimized in other ways have permission to fight against those who have wronged them (vv. 39-40). According to Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Ibn Abbas, Urwah bin Az-Zubayr, Zayd bin Aslam, Muqatil bin Hayan, Qatadah and others, this was the first verse revealed about jihad — that is, says Maududi: “v. 39 is the first verse that grants the Muslims permission to wage war.” This verse is also the epigraph of Osama bin Laden’s October 6, 2002 letter to the American people, in which he details his motives and goals.

Then Allah says: “For, if Allah had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques — in which Allah’s name is abundantly extolled would surely have been destroyed” (22:39–22:40). This would seem to be a blanket prohibition against the destruction of churches; proof that jihadists who commit that act do so in defiance of their religion.

Unfortunately, though, this is not all that the Quran says. The Quran many times reaffirms that its message is the same as that of the Torah and the Gospels, and calls on Jews and Christians to note that and accept it as divine revelation. Allah tells Muhammad: “And We have revealed to you the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it” (5:48), after affirming that in the Gospel was “guidance and light, confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous” (5:46). Those who do not accept the new revelation are castigated and threatened with punishment: “Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures” (98:6).

Note that this passage from sura 22 specifies that houses of worship in which “Allah’s name is abundantly extolled” not be destroyed. While Allah’s name may be abundantly extolled in the churches and synagogues of those who acknowledge Muhammad and the Quran, the same cannot be said of the churches and synagogues of “they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture.” This is how the Islamic State, in destroying churches and other houses of worship in Iraq and Syria, can justify its actions on solid Islamic grounds.

The Muslims, “if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong” (v. 41) — that is, they establish the proper ordering of society. But those who reject the message of the Muslims will ultimately be destroyed, as were the disbelievers of bygone ages (vv. 42-48). Allah tells Muhammad how to address the unbelievers, telling them that he is just giving them a warning: follow the way of righteousness or face hellfire (vv. 49-51).

Satan has interfered with the messages of all previous prophets, but Allah abrogates whatever falsehood he throws in (vv. 52-53). Ibn Kathir says at that this point many commentators of the Qur’an discuss the Satanic Verses incident, in which Muhammad, hoping to reconcile with the pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca (of which he was a member and who had rejected his prophethood) was said to have declared three goddesses worshipped by the Quraysh as the “daughters of Allah.” Then, realizing he had compromised his message of monotheism, he retracted the verses in question, saying that in that instance he had been inspired by Satan. Ibn Kathir, however, doesn’t believe that any of the accounts of the incident are reliable. We will return to this when we come around to sura 53, in which the beginning part of Muhammad’s revelation about the goddesses still appears, although of course the “Satanic” elements are not there.

Allah guides believers to the straight path of Islam (v. 54), while those without faith will never accept Islam, until finally judgment comes upon them (vv. 55, 57). Those who are killed in jihad warfare will be rewarded (v. 59). Those who have retaliated only in proportion to the injury they suffered, and then are attacked again, will receive help from Allah (v. 60). Ibn Kathir explains: “Muqatil bin Hayan and Ibn Jurayj mentioned that this was revealed about a skirmish in which the Companions encountered some of the idolaters. The Muslims urged them not to fight during the Sacred Months, but the idolaters insisted on fighting and initiated the aggression. So the Muslims fought them and Allah granted them victory.”

Allah has power over all things, and all things bear witness to his presence and power (vv. 61-66). Muhammad is to call all people to Islam, without arguing with them (vv. 67-69). Allah knows everything (v. 70), and yet they persist in their perversity and idolatry (vv. 71-72). The idols of the unbelievers can’t even create a fly (v. 73). The believers should worship Allah (v. 77) and fight for his cause, which is the religion of Abraham. Allah has called the believers Muslims both before this revelation and now in it also. The believers’ job is to be witnesses to Allah before all mankind (v. 78).

Philadelphia Muslims assault restaurant patrons: “We belong to ISIS”

UPDATE: More cover-up of Muslim crime by U.S. authorities? The video showing the perpetrators has been taken down. Portions of it, however, are in this news report:


Genuine jihadis or louts admiring the strong horse? No way to tell at this point.


“Police seeking information in assault at Geno’s Steaks,” by Mari A. Schaefer, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 2016:

Philadelphia police are looking for five men in connection with an assault outside Geno’s Steaks on June 11.

The men, all caught on surveillance video, fled in two cars – a dark colored pickup truck and an SUV – both with New Jersey license plates.

Police are also looking for one woman described as a getaway driver.

Police did not provide information about the assault, but said the video of it was “too graphic” to release.

Patrick Kane, a victim of the attack, provided this account.

He said he and his wife, Brooke Kane, had spent the night at a friend’s wedding and then at an after hours club with another couple, when they all decided to grab a bite to eat at Geno’s.

They were just finishing up their cheese steaks when Brooke Kane’s girlfriend asked another group of patrons if she could bum a cigarette, Patrick Kane said.

“That is when the guys just lost their minds,” said Patrick Kane, 31 and a maintenance supervisor at an apartment building.

In seconds one man stood up, put his hand over the face of the woman and pushed her across the sidewalk, said Patrick Kane.

“‘Don’t mess with us, we belong to ISIS,’” Kane said the man shouted at them.

Brooke Kane, a daycare teacher, stepped in to help her friend. The ISIS comment was not a joke she told them before she too was struck, Patrick Kane said.

At that point he and the other man stepped in to try and help the girls with the intention of leaving.

“What went from putting hands on two girls became five guys attacking us,” said Kane.

Patrick Kane said one man punched him in the nose, which started bleeding. He was then punched in the back of the head by another man and hit twice in the eye. He remembers Brooke screaming at bystanders for help and to call police, the five men running off, someone from Geno’s giving him a bag of ice and police and EMTs arriving on the scene.

Patrick Kane said he declined further medical treatment for what he called a black eye and small cut. The couples spent until 5 a.m. at a police station giving their statements, he said….

Islamic State seizes Syria villages from US-backed forces

The Pentagon and the establishment analysts keep telling us that the Islamic State is losing. There are just a few inconvenient facts that need to be ignored in order to establish that.


“ISIS seizes Syria villages from US-backed fighters: activists,” Agence France Presse, June 20, 2016:

BEIRUT: ISIS launched a surprise assault Monday near its besieged stronghold in northern Syria, killing residents of two villages it recaptured from U.S.-backed fighters, activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIS had dispatched a small group of extremists – including one driving an explosives-laden car – into villages southeast of their bastion of Manbij.

The villages had been seized in recent weeks by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in their push for Manbij.

“IS (ISIS) is trying to defend Manbij by sending fighters from outside the town to attack the SDF in these villages,” said Rami Abdel-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory.

“Daesh executed residents,” he added, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The head of the Observatory, which relies on a vast network of sources on the ground for its information, did not have an immediate toll from the villages.

The U.S.-led coalition backing the SDF carried out a barrage of airstrikes Monday to defend the villages, said Abdel-Rahman.

At least four SDF fighters were killed in the clashes and many more were wounded.

The SDF – a Kurdish-Arab alliance with air support from the U.S.-led coalition – encircled Manbij nearly 10 days ago.

But since then, they have been slowed by almost daily suicide bombings as ISIS puts up a fight for the town.

Held by the extremists since 2014, Manbij was a key stop along ISIS’s supply route from the Turkish border southeast through the town of Tabqa and on to its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa….