ISIS mines are threatening lives in Raqqa


Sabah is one of many people who have been injured after returning to their explosive-laden houses in Raqqa

Despite the defeat of the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa, part of the group’s nefarious legacy lives on, namely the prevalence of unexploded mines strewn across the city.

This includes in civilian homes, under rubble or in roads. Yesterday, Al Shahid documented the story of Mohammed Karaj, who was injured in an explosion in Raqqa when returning to his neighbourhood following the group’s ousting.

After entering his house with family members, his father went to pick up a Quran left lying in the rubble. Little did both men know that hidden beneath the Quran was an IED that exploded as Mohammed’s father went to pick it up. In the explosion, Mohammed was badly injured, but his father unfortunately paid with his life.

This comes amidst the story of Sabah, a woman from the Mashlab neighbourhood in eastern Raqqa. When she entered her house, her foot tripped a wire in the doorway of one of her rooms. She remembers a burning sensation and the sound of an explosion, and recalls how her foot was dismembered following the attack.

As with Mohammed, Sabah also lost a relative – her husband’s brother – who “died instantly,” as she puts it.

According to her relatives, Sabah hasn’t been the same since the incident, always fearing sudden sounds, unable to concentrate, and often confined to resting positions.

“We tell her ‘aunt Sabah, what’s wrong?’” said one of her nieces. “She says she cannot talk. She does not listen and is unable to walk because of her foot. We are afraid that she might lose her foot. She has had a lot of surgeries that have not been successful.

While the Raqqa Civilian Council and associated de-mining organisation “Roj” are attempting to clear out mines from the city, thousands have been left behind by ISIS militants.

At one point in January, there were as many as six deaths a day, with the number of mines far outnumbering the quantity of mines left in Raqqa.