In Raqqa, farmers are in despair as ISIS militants continue to systematically burn their crop yields during harvest season.
In a similar tactic that has been used before by ISIS, the militant group is attempting to deprive residents of Raqqa from their livelihoods by burning their farms and destroying their crops.
According to residents affected by the fires, ISIS’ sleeper cells have targeted over 13,000 dunums used to grow wheat, barley, and other grains.
“Every two days we are surprised by a new fire. ISIS is a terrorist group, after killing people, now it’s burning crops,” said a resident who lost over 100 dunums due to the fires. “As long as there are sleeper cells, the fires will continue.”
While the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been hunting down ISIS sleeper cells since their defeat in the region, the militants have continued to survive by reverting to insurgent-style attacks.
“Everyone knows that ISIS is behind these fires because it does not want this country to be blessed,” said a young man from Raqqa. “ISIS’ goal is to starve the people and raise the price of food.”
When these fires first began two weeks ago in other provinces and cities in Syria, many residents were unsure of the culprits. However, late last week, the militant group issued a statement, which was released by ISIS’ al-Naba Arabic newspaper, claiming that they are carrying out these fires.
In response to this, citizens have been attempting to put out these fires themselves, although there remains widescale destruction to their farms.
According to some farmers, the land that has been burned by ISIS is now deemed useless and infertile.
With many citizens relying on farming to bring income to their families, the destruction of these farms has affected hundreds of farmers, further increasing their suffering.
“The crops are burnt, and people lost everything,” said an elderly man in Raqqa. “The situation is getting worse.”