The municipality of Merkada, south of Hasakah, is looking to to develop its businesses and provide public services to the town's residents.
The local municipality in Merkada, which is located south of the city of Hasakah, is seeking to improve the town’s public services and develop businesses in the area.
Merkada lies in a strategic oil-rich area in the northeast of Syria and is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a majority Kurdish force that has ousted ISIS from large parts of the province and wider region.
For several years between early 2014 and November 2017, the town came under ISIS control, as part of the group’s advent through Iraq and Syria.
The group entrenched themselves in Merkada, enforcing strict, puritanical rules on the local population, and building a network of tunnels to allow for evasion of aircraft and ground forces.
Since the defeat of ISIS in Merkada, the town has gradually returned to life, as officials set about rebuilding infrastructure, providing services in the town, and serving the local people. Markets have reopened and people have returned to their homes.
“We have created a department to deal with people’s problems,” said Ali Hussein, the Joint Head of the Markada Municipality. “Due to the difficult years that have passed upon this town, it is essential to have someone who assesses the destruction of the infrastructure in Markada.”
Owing to the poor conditions under which locals lived during the rule of ISIS, basic infrastructure and local services deteriorated. In neighbouring Deir ez-Zour Province, polio returned during the group’s rule for the first time in years.
“Due to the circumstances of war and siege which took place three or four years ago regarding the city of Markada and its suburbs, the infrastructure was destroyed and the streets were cut off. Also, bridges have been damaged by floods,” said Amad Ismail Hatin, the Head of the Services Committee. “With the help of the Hasakah Council of Municipalities and in cooperation with the Coalition, this municipality was recently opened but, so far, we have not made any plan of action.”
With the memory of ISIS slowly fading, efforts like these are key to restoring life to towns and villages like Merkada and the wider region.