AIN ISSA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – Thousands of civilians fled the vicinity of Raqqa after the offensive was launched by the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to retake the city from the Islamic State (IS), fleeing people said on Monday.
According to Kurdistan24’s latest documentary, over 6,000 people have fled the IS-held areas in northern Raqqa since the beginning of the offensive dubbed the “Wrath of Euphrates.”
The group of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) resorted to the Kurdish-held town of Ain Issa which was the base of the first SDF division who launched the offensive nearly two weeks ago.
The IDPs narrated the atrocities committed by IS insurgents against the civilians in the city.
“Beheading and whipping had become daily events when we were under IS,” said Mohammad Idan, an elder Syrian man who fled the town of Hisha in northern Raqqa.
The fleeing people said they walked long distances to reach safe areas, running away from sounds of artillery and US-led coalition warplanes until the SDF fighters could open a corridor for them.
“[The SDF] offered us food and shelter, and helped us a lot,” said Jasin Felah, an IDP from Hisha town.
The fleeing people said they suffered a lot under the rule of IS. Especially the harsh conditions and torture they suffered under the insurgent group.
“We witnessed bad living conditions and outlandish arbitrary laws under [IS],” revealed Abdullah Mihesin, an IDP from a village in the northern Raqqa vicinity.
“People who had good relations with [IS], their conditions were alright, but those who didn’t have contacts with IS, they were neglected and tortured,” Mihesin continued.
The SDF are currently hosting the fleeing people in the town of Ain Issa. After their names are registered, the displaced are transported to the villages around the town.
On Nov. 5, the People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led SDF launched an operation to drive IS from its de facto capital in Syria.
This week, most of those who were displaced are returning to their villages as the SDF continue to liberate them.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Ekrem Salih, Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF)