Although much of the southern and eastern reaches of Syria’s Deir ez-Zour Province remain dangerous due to the continued presence of ISIS remnants in the desert, the northwestern parts of the region are slowly returning to life as a result of prolonged local stability. More and more Syrians from the region have returned t their homes and have started rebuilding. The rejuvenation of the town of Kasrah and the ongoing repair works on the nearby roads has allowed the surrounding communities such as the Mellaj Island to recover as well.
Located upon the Euphrates and between Kasrah and the village of Kubar, the Mellaj Island was under ISIS control until mid-late 2017 upon which it was secured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The destruction caused by ISIS and the subsequent battles had left the village devastated, with nearly every home, shop and utility destroyed.
Since then, the villagers have slowly returned to their homes and started rebuilding. Despite the enormity of the task ahead, they are receiving little to no support from outside, instead funding their own efforts and working together. The way they see it, they have to rely on themselves and each other because there is no guarantee that they will receive any help from outside. In addition to houses, the people of Mellaj have also built a number of shops which they hope to rent out to generate further revenue.
What the future holds for the people of Mellaj and their community is far from certain. Their village, although under the control of the SDF, is very close to the areas held by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Although this region has been fairly calm, the two sides have engaged in heavy skirmishes near the provincial capital of Deir ez-Zour. If the conflict escalates, the fragile peace in Mellaj may not last long.
The people here do not seem daunted by such prospect. They say that whatever happens, they will be ready to rebuild their homes and their communities.