Fighting in eastern Syria against ISIS is down to its last few weeks with the group confined to the two villages of Marashidah and Safafinah. The clashes have left hundreds of escapees in displacement camps.
With ISIS’ military defeat in Syria imminent, fear is escalating over the displacement of thousands of Syrians. Since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began operations to defeat ISIS in the group’s last enclave in eastern Deir ez-Zour, over 11,500 people have fled ISIS’ control.
Most of these displaced people, who are transferred to the al-Hol camp in the city of Hasakah, are suffering from a lack of support and aid. This has raised concern among many international organisations that are appealing for assistance to be sent to them.
Since the start of the Syrian Conflict, millions of Syrians have been forced into displacement camps in the country and along the borders. While their situation is already bad, the winter weather has exacerbated their suffering immensely, leading to the death of at least 29 Syrian children over the past eight weeks.
As such, the intensification of operations against ISIS has caused even more alarm as thousands more are now being displaced. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the SDF have discovered over 700 of the escapees who are either foreign fighters or related to ISIS militants. This is a result of intensive screenings that the SDF conduct when groups of displaced people approach them.
The official spokesperson of the SDF, Mustafa Bali, said in a tweet that ISIS is using thousands of civilians trapped in the remaining enclave as human shields to halt the advance of the SDF.
The remaining enclave, which is said to be around 4 square kilometres, is located between the villages of Marashidah and Safafinah on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
To end the presence of ISIS in Syrian territory, the SDF, backed by the International Coalition, is continuing to advance on the ISIS enclave. This has resulted in a commander of the SDF, Mazloum Kobani, announcing that ISIS’ influence in the country will be ending within the next month.
However, the SDF must soon redirect its resources to cracking down on ISIS sleeper cells, which continue to launch sporadic attacks on SDF checkpoints and assassinate officials throughout the country.
The defeat of ISIS in Syria is a welcomed development in Syria’s 8-year conflict. However, the country now has to try and find solutions for the thousands of displaced people who continue to suffer in camps throughout Syria.