Al-Bab was completely captured from ISIS by Turkish-backed rebels on the 23rd February, along with the towns of Qabasin and al-Bza’a. On the 25th February, the group’s militants began to retreat from the town of Tadef, with the Syrian Army capturing the town on the following day.
Despite the liberation of al-Bab and the surrounding villages from ISIS militants, many areas are still not safe enough for IDPs (internally displaced people) to return to. ISIS militants have planted hundreds of mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in the city of al-Bab, al-Bza’a, and the village of al-Suflaniya as well as many other farming areas and villages.
Currently factions within the Free Syrian Army are undergoing operations to clear the areas once controlled by the group. One of the units that have been tasked with clearing the area of mines is the engineering Division of the Mu’tasim Brigades.
The units are dismantling up to 60-70 mines a day, sometimes as many as 400 mines a day. Agricultural land is heavily mined and the proportion of mines in it is very high, 99% of mines are underground and difficult to detect. ISIS militants put landmines on farmland so that people do not leave the territories that they control. Many civilians have suffered as a result of the plethora of mines buried around the city.