Childhood under ISIS’ rule in Deir Ezzor, experiences speak for themselves

Written by Editorial Board

Language / اللغة العربية

Abduction and indoctrination of children  for active combat have become very obvious at the current time in Deir Ezzor province. Terrorising children and getting them used to bloody scenes have also affected their innocence. Forcing children to get married with ISIS members is what children can get in ISIS-controlled areas.

I was detained by ISIS as they were searching for my father

14 years old Mohamed, who fled along with his family Deir Ezzor province, tells us how ISIS members stormed his home and arrested him during the first days of the fall of Deir Ezzor in ISIS hands.Mohamed says: My father was outside when ISIS’ cars were circling in our street and their members were randomly firing bullets. I was near the window looking at around the house to understand what was going on when the cars suddenly stopped and ISIS fighters encircled our home and began to knock our door using their feet till it got opened. I was so terrified and my mother took my brother and I and attempted to calm us down.

Mohamed adds: The ISIS fighters started shouting ‘’Allahu Akbar’’, and one of them approached me and then asked ‘’ where is your father? (As his friends were pointing their guns at us)., I replied ‘’I do not know’’ then one ISIS member dragged me by my shoulders and made me wear a mask to put me inside one of those cars and then they continued their way. When they removed the mask from my face I found myself near a masked ISIS member asking me questions about my father and relatives, he kept asking such questions for hours and hours, and then I met with many people from my village in a room. On the second day they took me out, while my eyes were closed, and one ISIS member stepped up of his car and after a little while he said to me ‘’ Return to your home”.

Give up your minor daughter for marriage or face more raids

ISIS had failed several times before it succeeded in controlling Albu Kamal. Around 40 civilians were martyred during one of the ISIS offensives on the city, while several ISIS members were killed too. When ISIS seized control over the city of Albu Kamal, it started looking for those people who resisted its previous attacks in order to take revenge from them. The house of the family of Khadija, 14 years old girl, was raided for more than fourth time to take revenge from her big brother , whom they could not capture as he had left his home after ISIS took over the city.

Khadija says : Our home was encircled by ISIS fighters and then they began yelling  while knocking the door. It was opened as they continued hitting it aggressively, and then they entered inside carrying their weapons and gathered us in a wide room and started asking about my brothers  while some members were still searching for them in other rooms, it was really an horrible day. We continued crying , but that was not enough for ISIS membres to stop what they were doing  as they kept pointing their weapons at our direction and insulting my brother and the FSA. After that they did not find him and before they go one of them told us ‘’ we will come back again’’. After two days , one ISIS member visited the house of the family of Khadija and told her family ‘’ you have a daughter who has reached the age of marriage and the brothers who came in the city to protect and defend you , deserve to marry your daughter.”

Khadija told us ‘’I did not expect I was the girl they wanted to marry, one ISIS member came to our home to marry me to one of ISIS foreign fighters and this was hard to understand as I am used to play with my friends and I have not understood the meaning of the word ‘’ marriage’’ yet.The ISIS member came back to our home and told my father,61 years old, ‘’you have to accept this engagement proposal my uncle in order not to face more raids” then he left .My family were in a big dilemma while I (Khadija) did not understand what was going on around me.

Watching public executions have become normal to them

On the other hands, 11 years old Siraj, tells us how ISIS members gathered a number of children in a park of the city of Deir Ezzor to watch ISIS members as they cut off the hand of a civilian charged with stealing a motorcycle. Siraj says ‘’ ISIS members gathered us in the park of the city and put children at the front and began speaking about the story of the man accused of theft, then a masked ISIS fighter took the man’s hand and put it on the table while two others were holding his body, and then one of them took a huge knife and hit the hand of the man while people were shouting ‘’Allahu Akbar’’.Siraj continues and says ‘’ When they cut off the man’s hand they took him to the hospital ’’.

The solution is to leave

13 years old, Shadi ,who lost his father after the regime forces stormed the city of Deir Ezzor, fled,along with his family, to Turkey as the conditions of living in Deir Ezzor had changed for the worst after ISIS seized control over the city.They were not even able to buy bread, no job , no incomes. Shadi says : After ISIS began arresting the workers in humanitarian aids buildings ,which were helping us with food, under the pretext that they are dealing with the west, we ended up not having our basic needs.‘’We went out in the city of Deir Ezzor in an early morning heading towards a village in the eastern countryside where a man offered us a home for free and then the people began helping us with food on a daily basis. Some shops distributed free clothes to the displaced families who came to the village but this did not last long as poverty swept the whole province of Deir Ezzor after the new laws imposed by ISIS in the region. Consequently, we were left with no other option but to flee to Turkey.

It is clear that ISIS’goal of forcing children to watch executions and crucifixions creates a state of intellectual unbalance for this generation which would produce a generation accustomed to scenes of death, blood and body parts. The girl (Khadija) was not aware of what was going on around her, and in case she gets married with an ISIS member it would be considered a crime against her childhood and humanity. On the other hand, the deprivation which the majority of Syrian children faced in Syria and ISIS-run areas in particular has formed a state of despair which necessitates a lot of efforts for the rehabilitation of this generation , who may be the future of Syria .


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