The Washington Post reports: When Islamic State fighters fled this northern Syrian town in June, they took with them the electricity generators, the water pumps, the hospital equipment and pretty much everything else that had helped sustain the semblance that they ran a functioning state.
They left behind their graffiti, their instruments of torture, the block of wood on which they beheaded their victims, the cage in which they punished smokers — and a community riven with suspicion and distrust.
Today, Tal Abyad is a tense and troubled place. Its new Kurdish masters are seeking to assert their control over a mixed town that, at least until recently, had an Arab majority — some of whom were not entirely unhappy to be governed by the Islamic State.
“As long as you didn’t bother them, they didn’t bother you,” said Sarkis Kaorkian, 60, who is one of the town’s few Christians who remained behind and is now deeply relieved the Islamic State is gone. He claims he drank and smoked his way through the group’s 17-month rule by staying out of their way and paying on time the $100 tax, or jizya, leveled twice a year on Christian residents. [Continue reading…]