As the battle for Raqqa rages, civilians continue to flee from ISIS-controlled areas in the city to the Ein Issa camp.
Although civilians are attempting to flee Raqqa, the path out of the city is strewn with dangers. Mines and ISIS patrols out of the city have resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians. Those who were able to find their way out have found refuge in the Ein Issa camp. The camp was set up within Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controlled territories a few kilometres north of Raqqa city, after Ein Issa had been liberated in 2015 from ISIS hands by YPG forces. .
Those internally displaced at the Ein Issa camp confirm previous reports of the oppressive measures enforced by ISIS onto the population of Raqqa. The infamous Hisbah patrols impose harsh rules on the inhabitants of the city, beating, imprisoning and killing those who disobey ISIS commands.
The Ein Isa camps has been receiving waves of refugees leaving Raqqa over the past few weeks. The SDF has played a key role in providing support and access to civilians allowing them to flee ISIS-controlled regions of Raqqa and mine-laden areas.
Operation “Wrath of the Euphrates”, led by the Syrian Democratic Forces, has been underway for a number of months and has continued to make gains against ISIS. The recent full liberation of Tabqa from ISIS control has been a key victory for the SDF in their push to penetrate further into Raqqa province and, especially, Raqqa city, a stronghold of ISIS.
ISIS is now being besieged from three fronts by the SDF. On 16 May, SDF fighters captured the village of Bedir, after besieging earlier that day. Then on 17 May, the SDF captured the village of al-Filec and the surrounding farms. On 18 May, the SDF fighters captured the villages of Hamrat Ghanam. The SDF are now targeting the village of Hamra al-Buwaitiya where clashes continue.