HASAKAH – The radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) had seized control of the key town of al-Hawl in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakah more than two years ago, before being recaptured by the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last week.
During the ISIS occupation of the town, civilians suffered hard restrictions and suppression as subjects of the ISIS self-declared caliphate.
With the start of the SDF-led military operations to liberate the Hasakah countryside on October 30, the Kurdish-Arab alliance, backed by the U.S.-led coalition’s air cover, were able to expel the hardline group from the strategic town on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The joint forces called on residents to evacuate the town in order to dismantle the mines planted by ISIS across al-Hawl.
Families were asked to leave al-Hawl after the SDF expelled ISIS militants from the town. The SDF forces have been dismantling explosive devices and landmines planted by the terror group in the town and its surroundings to avoid any civilian casualties by accidental explosions.
In an attempt to shed the light on the daily life under ISIS rule in al-Hawl, ARA News spoke to Abu Hatim, 50, who refused to leave his hometown despite the risks.
“Daesh was punishing everyone who would violate its strict regulations. We have witnessed barbaric atrocities and brutal kinds of punishment over the last two years,” Abu Hatim said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“The group had allocated the main square downtown for whipping people accused of violating its strict regulations and instructions. Flogging was among the most popular methods of punishment implemented by Daesh in al-Hawl,” Abu Hatim told ARA News.
Speaking to ARA News, SDF official Berxwedan Osman confirmed that five to ten people were flogged a day by ISIS militants in al-Hawl over the last two years.
“Based on civilians’ testimonies, many people were being flogged by the terror group for smoking, violating the Islamic dress or for late participation in prayers,” Osman said.
“Smokers were being flogged fifty times once they were caught by an ISIS militant,” an eyewitness said.
“One of the brutal scenes that I cannot forget is that of a woman who was hardly punished for leaving the door of here house open. She was brutally flogged in front of hundreds of people,” the source said.
Dozens of young men have been beheaded for refusing ISIS strict rules.
“Our town has witnessed daily scenes of barbarism and brutality over the last two years. That is above what a human being could bear.”
Reporting by: Siber Haji and Qehreman Miste
Source: ARA News
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