ISIS attack on Syria’s Hasakah leaves families without shelter

HASAKAH, Syria (North Press) – Every day, members of the family go to their destroyed house trying to pull out what is left intact of their furniture so they can sell it as scraps. They hope this could alleviate a little bit of their loses which are estimated at millions of Syrian pounds (SYP). 

Exhausted of searching, the 49-year-old Sara al-Ali and her niece sit in a place once was their house’s yard located near the cemetery of Guweiran neighborhood in Syria’s Hasakah, northeast Syria. 

While gazing in the leveled house where only one ramshackle room is left, al-Ali said, “Nothing of my brother Abdullatif’s house is left.”

On January 21, Sara al-Ali, her old mother, her brother Abdullatif and his family fled their house in the wake of the Islamic State Organization (ISIS) attack on al-Sina’a prison in the city.

They all headed to Sara’s eldest brother’s house located in al-Layliya neighborhood.

The family did not realize the house, only days after they left, would turn to ruble. Clashes erupted between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and members ISIS sleeper cells who took the house as a hideout.

“I am tired. Really tired. I can’t sleep at night. We have got nothing left. My mother, my brother and his family and I are all homeless now,” al-Ali said.

On January 20, ISIS sleeper cells attacked al-Sina’a prison where thousands of ISIS detainees were held whom captured earlier by the SDF during battles against the hardline ISIS.

ISIS attack was coincident with three successive explosions carried out by ISIS sleeper cells to free their fellows out from the prison. Some ISIS detainees managed to escape while others spread in the vicinity of the prison and hid among the residential neighborhoods.

Heavy clashes that lasted for about ten days took place in the neighborhoods. Then, the SDF and the Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria (Asayish) regained control over the prison with an aerial support by the US-led Global Coalition to defeat ISIS.

What is our fault?

Before their house was destroyed, Sara and her mother lived in one room whereas her brother and his family used the other rooms. Now, the family members are torn asunder since they lost their solo house.

Currently, Sara and her mother live in her eldest brother’s house, Abdullatif’s wife and her children are residing with her relatives and Abdullatif is living with his relatives. 

Two days ago, the family members gathered in the house and had canned food in the yard recalling their memories in the house. 

The al-Sina’a prison attack ensued exodus of people towards adjacent neighborhoods. Scores of houses and shops, service institutions and the grain silos were demolished.

The Euphrates  University and Guweiran neighborhood garage were also leveled. 

The SDF announced 121 fighters of the SDF were killed which was shocked and broke heart of the people of NE Syria, some employees within the prison, including four civilians were among the casualties.

Demands for compensation

The emotional condition of the 50-year-old Abdullatif al-Ali, Sara’s brother, was not better than his sisters’. Al-Ali started to cry as soon as he was informed his house was razed to the ground.

He has spent many years building the house, saved money for years in order to be able to build one room until he finally managed to finish the entire house. 

Standing on the wreckage of the house, al-Ali knows very well he can’t rebuild it. He is a civil state employee with a monthly salary of 100,000 SYP which cannot sustain his 10-members family.

“We are torn asunder, my mother and my sister are residing in one place. My wife and my children are in somewhere else,” Al-Ali said.

In early March, Khabat Suleiman, co-chair of the council of Hasakah Region, said they set up a committee tasked to estimate the damages inflicted to the civilians’ properties in the neighborhoods adjacent to al-Sina’a prison in Hasakah. 

After completing the survey, the committee will discuss the outcome with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) which in turn will send a copy to the SDF, Suleiman added.

However, he added no details concerning the procedures the committee and the AANES would take to deliver an aid and compensate the affected families.

While collecting bricks of his house, al-Ali said, “We are left without a house and no shelter.”

Reporting by Jindar Abdulqader