This, and places like it in northern Syria, is where Europe’s refugee crisis began. With the rise of ISIL, the flow of people escaping their tyrannical regime has increased.
Now ISIL is on the back foot, and losing territory daily; harried from the air, and hit hard on the ground by Kurdish fighters taking advantage of the planes’ cover.
“Daesh is becoming weaker after our recent offensive in Al-Hawi near the Iraqi border. They are retreating in large numbers. The era of their destruction has started,” said Kurdish YPG commander Lawand Rojava.
However refugees fleeing ISIL’s so-called capital of Raqqa say that as the terrorists’ grip on the city weakens they are committing genocide. The Kurds are mounting offensives and cutting supply lines, but relief for the city appears far away.
“They made a false accusation against my uncle and they beheaded him and didn’t return his body to us – this is the hardest thing for me. Every day they make accusations like ‘atheist’ or ‘spy of the regime’ so they can behead people. Thousands have been killed,” said one man.
The successes are starting to take their toll on ISIL, but like a wounded animal that is cornered it is doubly dangerous, and in the areas it still controls it is able to take out its frustrations on the population. For them, help cannot come soon enough.