The exodus from Raqqa continues as thousands of citizens escape the clutches of ISIS a day.
Those who arrived in the relative safety of the IDP camps are jubilant. The conditions under ISIS were abysmal they report. One woman says, “ISIS did not allow us any freedom in how we dress and would intervene in everything. Even if we wanted to herd our sheep they would chase us. They intervened in everything. Even if our eyes showed they would not allow it”.
The oppression of women under ISIS was particularly draconian with reports of women being abused and even beheaded by the Al-Khansaa Brigade for wearing makeup under their burqa or for wearing body shape revealing clothing. Men’s beards were also checked to uncover any potential contraband.
For many, this escape is the first time they will be able to eat food and drink water because of shortages of supply due to farmland that was left barren because land was not being worked and any food and water that was left was reserved for the fighters.
Many families are now being reunited, but processing these escapees and vetting them to make sure there are no sleeper cells hiding among the Internally displaced peoples (IDPs) is a long and laborious task, but one that must be conducted thoroughly for the overall safety of the citizens and the stability of the IDP camps.