Syrian Civilians Flee from the Last IS Enclave

Ulia Zaman, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, February 20th, hundreds of men, women, and children were evacuated from Baghuz, which is located near the Iraqi border. Bashuz is the last village in Syria still held by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. The many families that were able to escape are now homeless.

  Aryan Kanuparti (10) said, “It is heartbreaking to hear about all of the children that are currently homeless because of these issues. In times such as these, we, as human beings, should step up to help all of these people.”

  The US-backed Syrian Domestic Forces (SDF) alliance have stated that they are waiting for the safe evacuation of all remaining civilians before initiating an offensive against militants stationed in the area. It is estimated that a total of 300 IS fighters are currently occupying the area.

  On Tuesday, the United Nations reported that about 200 families were being held captive by IS militants. It is estimated that nearly 20,000 people have fled in the past few weeks, in addition to the about 2,000 people that escaped on Wednesday.

  Adnan Afrin, an SDF spokesman, told the AFP news agency that a number of IS fighters had been hiding among the civilians being evacuated. Although he did not elaborate the details, he did confirm that they were later caught and arrested.

Exactly how successful the SDF has been thus far in attempting to rid the land of IS is unclear due to conflicting reports.

  Human rights chief Michelle Bachelet pointed out the immense danger that the remaining civilians were in, particularly because of the likelihood of intense aerial bombardment from US-led coalition and Syrian forces. During a meeting with other UN officials and human rights activists, she implored the IS fighters to allow safe passage for all remaining civilians, stating that the “civilians continue to be used as pawns by the various parties.”

  The thousands of people that have managed to escape were sent by SDF forces to a temporary camp at al-Hol, located in Hassakeh province.

  Jana Abulaban (9) stated, “I feel like a lot of those people now think that this is normal, we are used to hearing such bad things and it’s like a normal part of reality now. This isn’t how this should be, we should do everything in our power to help those people and prevent further tragedies.”

  In 2017 other military campaigns expelled IS from the majority of the territory that they had overtaken, including major cities such as Mosul and Raqqa. The SDF plan to continue with such military operations until all of Syria has been freed from the control of IS.

Courtesy of USA Today