Life has been returning to the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez-Zour since ISIS militants were almost completely driven out of the province over the course of 2017.
Although remnants of the group continue to pose a threat in the eastern and southern parts of the province, much of the northwestern regions have remained safe and stable enough for displaced residents to return and commence with reconstruction while resuming with economic activities. The past few months have seen vital infrastructure work conducted to return towns and villages to a viable state. But none of these efforts can be sustained without robust transport links.
Like every other piece of infrastructure in ISIS-held regions, roads, bridges and other vital transport infrastructure has suffered immense damage over the past years. In addition to insufficient maintenance, many of the roads suffered heavy damage prior or during the battles to rid the province from the militants.
In a region that is bisected by a river, bridges form a vital part of linking the north and east to south and west. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ISIS and the International Coalition have all been guilty of targeting bridges in a bid to limit their enemies’ movements, force them into bottlenecks and slow their advance.
Roads, meanwhile, are pockmarked with craters and debris resultant from the many clashes along the highways and the roadside bombs that have been placed by ISIS militants.
Now that reconstruction is picking up, the local municipalities here are working to bring the roads and bridges to working order. While they do not have many resources, they are determined to make to with what little they have. After all, the easier the road access is across the province, the more supplies will arrive to improve the lives further.
At the moment, the municipalities are particularly concerned with fixing the roads around the town of Jazra and the nearby village of Kubar. Located along the northern banks of the Euphrates, these two locations are in close proximity to the provincial capital of Deir ez-Zour and are on the road that leads towards Raqqa. Indeed, before the war, this location had allowed Jazra (also known as Kasrah) to become a major market town, a status that its inhabitants are keen to regain.
The rebuilding of some of the more complex roads and structures will take more resources than what the people here have. Nevertheless, the signs of reconstruction here and the effort the local people are putting to better their communities is a promising sign for the future, even if the political fortunes of the region remain hard to predict.