April 15, 2015
By Osama Abu Zeid and Brent Eng
AMMAN: The Islamic State demolished the former houses of three rebel leaders on Tuesday in a town under its control in Deir e-Zor province in an apparent act of intimidation, according to pictures that local activists took and circulated on social media.
“The reason for the demolitions is to broadcast horror, fear and intimidation amongst the sons of the town, many of whom are leaders with Jabhat a-Nusra or fighting in the ranks of [the local militia rebel group] Asoud a-Sharqiya against IS,” Mohammed Hasan, the alias of a Deir e-Zor-based activist, told Syria Direct on Wednesday.
The exact locations of the three leaders are unknown, but they are likely out of Deir e-Zor province, now almost entirely controlled by the Islamic State.
IS destroys the former houses of rebel leaders in Shahil. Photo courtesy of Abu Omar al-Akaidi.
One of the houses in the town of Shahil used to belong to Salim Ayadat, the leader of an FSA-affiliated brigade, another house to Dr. Yusef Al-Hajar, a Jahbat a-Nusra leader, and the last to a Jaish al-Islam leader, said Hasan.
Even though other village residents now live in those houses, IS razed them anyway.
IS has repeatedly lashed out against Shahil, located just north of Deir e-Zor city, since winning control of the town from Jabhat a-Nusra and FSA forces in 2014.
“IS carried out the demolition and destruction of the houses after looting, stealing and breaking the contents inside,” said Muhajer a-Shami, the pseudonym of a member of the grassroots media campaign Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently.
IS controls the majority of eastern, oil-rich province of Deir e-Zor, with the main exception being the nearby provincial capital where it struggles with regime forces for rule.
In Deir e-Zor city, an Islamic State blockade on districts under its control prevented more than 250,000 civilians from obtaining access to food, water, medicine and other basic supplies, said the pro-opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights in a report published earlier this week.
“IS is arresting a number of drivers who have tried to deliver food into Deir e-Zor city,” Jalal al-Hamad, the Turkey-based head of the awareness campaign Deir e-Zor is Under Siege, told Syria Direct last month.
“IS has closed the main road in and out of the city, and many residents have tried to sneak out by back road, which has led to their deaths and arrests at the hands of IS.”