Abu Mohammed and his son used to live in al-Bab, in northern Syria. They lived together there as a family their whole life in peace until ISIS militants occupied the town and imposed its brutal and violent rule on the people of al-Bab. The destruction that still pervades the town of al-Bab is a testament to the destructive rule of ISIS. The fighting has left many buildings damaged, if not outright destroyed. Many of the city’s roads and streets are littered with rubble.
As the battle for the town of al-Bab began to intensify, many families tried to flee the town, including that of Abu Mohammed who fled from the Mahoush area which separates the areas controlled by ISIS and the areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Both him and his son, Mohammed, risked their lives to escape the chaotic fighting and tyranny under ISIS.
“We wanted to survive. We went out late at night and entered the minefield without paying attention as we were eager to get out”, explained Abu Mohammed. Despite, taking the necessary precautions the road out of al-Bab was treacherous and had claimed many victims. Many families who fled the killing did not escape unscathed.
Abu Mohammed explains how on the journey he tragically lost three children and his wife and his last son, Mohammed, both lost their eye-sight after a mine exploded while they were walking out of al-Bab. “We were fleeing to Mahoush area because of ISIS, when we got to the end of the road we entered the minefield. Mines exploded and half of the people got hurt. We were about 130 families, we were all escaping,” explained Mohammed.
Before withdrawing, ISIS also planted landmines in agricultural areas and around homes across the city, posing a considerable threat to civilians, particularly children, like Mohammed and his brothers.