Why a Syrian town surrendered to ISIS — and why it now wishes it never had

Raqqa2

The Daily Beast reports: “It was a two-year nightmare I just woke up from.”

Muhammad just arrived in Turkey with his family after fleeing the ISIS-controlled Syrian town of al-Ashara, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. He’d spent two years under the jihadist army’s rule. “I am going to tell my story once,” he told The Daily Beast after several prior attempts to get him to share his tale. “And then I want to forget it for good.”

Muhammad is a Syrian in his early thirties. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and worked as a teacher. He asked to keep his full name and any other details secret, because some members of his family are still back in al-Ashara and could face retribution from the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS. He added that even in Turkey, he doesn’t feel safe since ISIS operatives are all over the place. Two members of the activist monitor Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently were murdered in Urfa around a month ago in the living room of their house.

Just a few days after Muhammad fled from his town, on Nov. 20, the Russians bombed it. Many houses were destroyed, but none of them was used by ISIS. Nor were the jihadists’ facilities destroyed or any militant killed. A number of civilians were injured. The one fatality was a little girl named Maha Ghazi al-Abbad. She was 15 years old. [Continue reading…]

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