Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Remnants of Crumbling ISIS Rule in Eastern Syria

Remnants of Crumbling ISIS Rule in Eastern Syria

Thursday, 7 February, 2019 - 07:00
This picture taken on January 27, 2019 shows a view inside a former ISIS prison cell in the city of Hajin in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province. (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP)
Hajin (Syria) - Asharq Al-Awsat
ISIS is little more than a slogan on a broken storefront and a dark memory in the last town it controlled in Syria, Agence France Presse reported.

Hajin has been largely leveled but reminders of militant rule remain on those walls that still stand amid the mounds of rubble and mangled construction iron rods.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces expelled ISIS from Hajin in December and have now confined the militants to a handful of hamlets a few miles down the Euphrates.

Hajin's mayor, Ali Jaber, 56, points towards vacated buildings and houses dotting the sides of the road.

"ISIS used to confiscate people's houses and transform them into headquarters. Every time someone vacated their house, they would seize it," he says.

He singles out an embattled building that has been reduced to a single floor following intensive shelling.

The structure, which used to serve as a doctor's clinic, was used by ISIS as a police base, he says.

Nearby, a pile of rubble stands at the entrance of a destroyed house. A resident says militants used it as a religious tax office.

"Take it with you, we don't want this here anymore," Jaber tells an AFP reporter, pointing to a document listing farming taxes issued by the organization’s administration.

Further down the road, a set of white chairs are lined up on the sidewalk.

Hays al-Sheikh, 35, a resident, described it as a sort of outdoor cinema.

Militants broadcast "horror films" there to attract recruits, he says, referring to ISIS propaganda videos that often included executions and gruesome scenes.

Residents point to three utility poles nearby. They claim the group used to hang people from the three columns before stoning or shooting them to death.

Corpses would hang for at least three days, they say.

ISIS converted some homes into makeshift prisons. In one of them, they had sealed off empty rooms with a metal gate and installed bars on each of the windows.

The group left troves of documents behind, including lists detailing the names of militants, the battalions they belonged to, and the number of their children and wives.

SDF fighters have also found military identification cards seized by militants following battle, as well as copper coins that ISIS used as currency.

Editor Picks