Two years ago, Daesh established full control over the province of Deir Ezzor, apart from some neighborhoods of Deir Ezzor, which have remained since then under the control of the Assad-regime. It has adopted a systematic policy to force civilians out of their homes and lands by imposing various taxes and fines on all economic domains, including agriculture and commerce. Executions which target civilians on a regular basis have always been a major part of the group’ strategy as well.
The Coalition is also held accountable for the increase of the sufferings civilians in Deir Ezzor are facing. They carry out around 15 to 7 air strikes on the province every day and they recently dropped leaflets asking civilians to leave their homes in some cities, pushing many of them to search for a safe passageway to flee from both, the air strikes of the Coalition and the atrocities of the organization. The fleeing civilians are reliant on smugglers to make it to the Assad-regime held areas, the FSA or the SDF, as the group issued a ban on all kinds of travel outside its controlled territory.
The fleeing attempts are always risky and extremely dangerous, as the organization have checkpoints along its border with other parties, where it also set up minefields, which have claimed several civilian lives so far.
Deir Ezzor families have ended up with several choices which differ in their difficulties and harshness. Heading towards the regime-held areas in Hasakah and Damascus remains a harsh journey and fleeing to the SDF-controlled areas mean that they will be discriminated against and subjected to injustice. Concerning the FSA-controlled areas, because of the difficulties of the fleeing process, they are now forced to sleep out in the open and are going through deplorable conditions that they drink polluted water in the areas where they are stranded.
The organization punishes everyone who attempts to flee
Most of the time, civilians flee in secret as the organization does not permit them to leave its held areas, unless they obtain an approval from the group’s Hisbah office in the region. They are obliged to use desert roads to not pass though the organization’s checkpoints in the region. If they were caught by Daesh patrols, they would be flogged, fined or imprisoned, while those who manage to flee from the group-controlled areas have their properties confiscated.
The SDF prevent them from entering their held areas in Al-Hasakah province.
The SDF in Al-Hasakah do not allow civilians from Deir Ezzor to enter unless they have a guarantor. The fleeing civilians are also interrogated while passing through the SDF check posts in the region. Sometimes they are forced to bribe some SDF officials with an amount estimated at 100 to 200000 SYP to be allowed entry into the province. If so, they are then thrown in camps established near the borders with Hasakah city which lack most of the human basic needs.
The Sharia court in Azaz considers them as sleeper cells
The Sharia court in Azaz issued a decision on Sunday, September 29, 2016, to close all the crossings leading to the city of Azaz in the face of the displaced civilians from the eastern region (Raqqa and Deir Ezzor) under the pretext that most of them are “Daesh sleeper cells”.
Assad forces prevent them from entering Damascus
Assad forces block access to civilians fleeing from Daesh-held areas in Deir Ezzor. In the area of Dumeir the displaced families are arrested and interrogated. Most of the time are asked to provide a guarantor to be permitted to enter Damascus. Sometimes, some regime officers present themselves as guarantors for the fleeing families in return of around 300000 to 500000 SYP, which most of the displaced families cannot afford, pushing them to remain stranded on the outskirts of Damsacus facing catastrophic humanitarian conditions due to the lack of medicines, food, water and shelter.
All the calls to save the people of Deir Ezzor and provide medical care to them have remained just words with no practical actions.