People of al-Bab look to a future free from ISIS presence

Syrian civilians who fled al-Bab while ISIS controlled the city continue to return to their homes after the terrorist group was defeated by Euphrates Shield forces in fighting that lasted over 100 days.

The city has suffered from significant amounts of destruction during the past three months, damaging infrastructure facilities and levelling civilian homes across the city. However, the dire state of al-Bab has not prevented civilians from returning to their city.

One man said that he returned to al-Bab when he heard ISIS had fled the city. “We fled for four months and when we heard that the city was liberated, we returned and opened our shops,” he said. “Some shops are damaged and the other are not. We began rebuilding those damaged while good shops were opened and cleaned in order to operate as soon as possible.”

Al-Bab was a former ISIS stronghold in the north of Syria until Euphrates Shield operations, conducted by the Free Syrian Army and Turkish armed forces, pushed ISIS militants south towards Deir Hafer. The Syrian army had also been fighting ISIS in Tadif, south of al-Bab.

ISIS has come under intense pressure in all of its remaining strongholds. Raqqa, the organisation’s de facto capital, is under siege by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and reports indicate that the members of the group’s leadership have fled to the nearby city of Deir ez-Zour.