2000 Civilians at least are Stuck in the Desert
Since ISIS was founded on 9 April 2016, the group has managed to take over wide areas in Deir Ez-Zour, Al Raqqa, Al Hasaka, and Aleppo governorates. We have been regularly monitoring the violations committed by ISIS against civilians in their areas of control such as killing, arresting, and undermining the daily basic social, religious, and cultural aspects of their life.
Unless a civilian has a medical report or a written permission by the leadership of his or her respective area, ISIS’s policy prohibits anyone from leaving or displacing the group’s areas of control, which drove many civilian residents to seek alternative routes using dirt roads, where there are no military checkpoints for ISIS, to head for areas under the control of other parties, such as armed opposition-held areas, Syrian regime-held areas, or the Democratic Union Party and Syrian Democratic Forces that are practically affiliated with the Party, which might be a safer haven than ISIS’s tight grip on all life aspects even though these attempts come with great risks such as being captured by ISIS members or stepping on one of the hundreds of landmines that ISIS planted.
Residents from Deir Ez-Zour governorate who want to flee the darkness of ISIS for the refugee camps in Turkey or to Damascus have to go north through Al Hasaka governorate as (Deir Ez-Zour – Damascus) road has been closed since the beginning of 2016 because of the ongoing clashes between ISIS and the Syrian regime forces. Additionally, (Homs – Al Suwayda’ – Damascus) road is a desert dirt road where it would take more than 10 days to reach a camp for Syrian regime forces in Al Suwayda’ where Syrian regime forces doesn’t let anyone leave this camp without securing a sponsor from Damascus city. In light of all of this, there is almost no way available but the route shown in the map (This map is only for demonstrative purposes and doesn’t reflect the roads that residents go through to reach the checkpoint) that go through Al Hasaka governorate leading to Al Houl camp in the eastern suburbs of Al Hasaka. The camp is 50 kilometers away from Al Hasaka city and houses no less than 15,000 civilians who are mostly IDPs from Iraq and Deir Ez-Zour.
IDPs head for the camp to settle in or move to other areas like refuging in neighboring countries or heading for Al Hasaka city and then to Al Qamishli airport and to Damascus International Airport from there.