Small Wars Journal

A Desperate Struggle for Survival Inside the Last Corner of the Islamic State

A Desperate Struggle for Survival Inside the Last Corner of the Islamic State by Louisa Loveluck – Washington Post

AL-HOL, SYRIA - At the end, the Islamic State is little more than a hamlet of tents, pitched in panic between U.S. bombing raids.

 

Inside, there has been chaos, witnesses say. Families have fled. Militants are hoarding food. Some fighters have turned their guns on each other.

 

As U.S.-backed forces surround the last square mile of Islamic State territory, preparing for a final assault on the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, people who have escaped describe a desperate scrabble for survival in the dying days of the statelet.

 

In more than a dozen interviews at screening points outside the village and at the al-Hol displacement camp, those who fled recounted the end of the self-proclaimed caliphate in graphic, often harrowing, detail.

 

Wives and children of the Islamic State fighters looked confused and exhausted. Yazidi women and their families, who had been enslaved by the militants, were in shock.

 

One said she had walked “out of hell.”

 

They described how they had retreated in recent weeks from city to town and then into rural villages as the bombs kept falling and their Islamic State shrank. By the time they reached the villages of Sousa and then Shaafa, near Baghouz close to the Iraqi border, they had given up unpacking their suitcases, several women said…

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