War remnants take a toll on civilians in Deir Ezzor’s eastern countryside 

War residue from battles between the SDF and the Islamic State group in eastern Deir Ezzor province - 2023 (Enab Baladi)

War residue from battles between the SDF and the Islamic State group in eastern Deir Ezzor province - 2023 (Enab Baladi)

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Deir Ezzor – Obadah al-Sheikh

Numerous stories of those affected by the remnants of war have been told by the residents of the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, including 45-year-old Mikhlef, who was injured by a landmine explosion, costing him his right leg and causing a severe abdominal injury.

Mikhlef has not enjoyed the freedom he recently gained when he left the al-Hol camp designated for detaining families of the Islamic State organization in east al-Hasakah, as a landmine exploded in his house in the village of Muzan, east of Deir Ezzor.

The explosion not only wounded Mikhlef’s body but also resulted in the death of his brother and wife, and inflicted injuries on a girl from the family, leading to a disability that requires surgical operation costing up to 35 million Syrian pounds (about 2,400 US dollars), in addition to various injuries suffered by other family members.

The area was filled with mines upon Mikhlef’s return, according to what he told Enab Baladi, but thanks to the activity of some local organizations, mines were removed from the area. Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) offered to remove mines from the homes but for a fee that could reach 500 dollars at times.

Civilians as victims

Children are part of the landmine victims and war remnants in Deir Ezzor province, especially those searching for metals to sell and make a living from their price.

Farmers and truffle gatherers are also among the mine victims, as cases of these objects exploding rise at the beginning of each year with the truffle season, which Syrians eagerly harvest.

Truffles are mainly found in desert areas, which were controlled by the Islamic State group before 2019.

Meanwhile, Shaker al-Saleh had dreamed of continuing his education to become a teacher in the schools of Deir Ezzor, but he lost his father at the age of 16, following an explosion of a war leftover in the town of al-Baghouz, east of Deir Ezzor province, placing him in the position of the head of the family and forcing him to give up his dream of completing his education.

Al-Saleh, the boy who has not yet reached the age of majority, from the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor and hailing from the town of al-Baghouz, which was the last stronghold of the Islamic State organization in Syria controlled by the SDF in 2019, is now responsible for securing the livelihood of his family, consisting of ten members.

Organizations provide minimal support

The eastern countryside areas in Syria suffer from the widespread presence of war remnants across the entire Deir Ezzor province, noting that the extent of their spread has not been documented by relevant entities.

The war that Deir Ezzor witnessed in the midst of the control race over the Islamic State group’s influence areas between 2017 and 2020 by Russia, the Syrian regime, and Iran on one hand, and the International Coalition Forces (ICF) and the SDF on the other, left its remnants, alongside the mines planted by the Islamic State before it lost geographic areas.

Villages and towns like Hajin, al-Sha’fa, al-Susah, and al-Baghouz are among the most affected and destroyed areas and have recorded the highest cases of mine and war remnants explosions, as monitored by Enab Baladi.

The director of the local Ataa organization, Mane’ Safer, told Enab Baladi that war remnants are scattered in destroyed houses, agricultural lands, and sites previously used by the SDF as military points.

Due to the spread of these remnants, many civilians, including children, have been killed, and others have suffered serious injuries, including amputations and paralysis.

Safer said that in the town of al-Baghouz alone, 15 people were killed due to the explosion of objects from war remnants, while 20 others were injured, some of which led to limb amputation cases.

Regarding the role of organizations, Safar clarified that their efforts were limited to awareness campaigns for children and adults about the dangers of mines.

Several humanitarian organizations are active in eastern rural Deir Ezzor, where the SDF controls, such as Ataa al-Baghouz organization, active in raising awareness about war remnants, and Amal al-Baghouz organization, which worked on removing a portion of war remnants from homes.

Other organizations active in the same field include al-Hayat organization, the Bokra Ahla volunteer team, and the “HI” organization.

Despite these organizations’ efforts, Safer indicated that their members work voluntarily without support from any party, and so far, no international organization has played an effective role in this field.

The media person in Amal al-Baghouz organization, Mohammad Dawoud, told Enab Baladi that many children in the area suffered injuries due to the spread of war remnants, even though the organization launched numerous campaigns to remove mines, and the lack of detection devices limits the effectiveness of these campaigns.

 

النسخة العربية من المقال

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