18.08.2017, 13.44 Context
A fighter describes the civilian’s liberation in Raqqa yesterday.
“The distance between us and the encircled civilians was 4 kilometres. We started in the early morning hours at around 5 am for Nezlit Şehade. There around 200 civilians, mostly women and children, were trapped. When we saw them, we managed to rescue them in 10 minutes.
The civilians, who were liberated yesterday, had been trapped in ISIS’ occupation for two months. Two days before water and food supply run out. Their location was only 100 metres away from the battles. When we went to them, we met an old man in the first moment. Pieces of mines were mired in his hand and leg. To express, that he couldn’t believe to be rescued from death, he told the fighters, that he wanted to kiss them. As the old man suffered huge pain, the SDF fighters gave their best to send him to the hospital quickly.
When the civilians saw us, they wanted to share their pain immediately. A pained mother told us: “Two of my sons died!” Another one, holding his sick daughter, said: “There was no medicine. ISIS didn’t allow us to go to El-Wetenî hospital. They only let their own members go there to get medical treatment. ISIS members cut of the clean water supply two months ago. When civilians went to get water from the well, they had to fear death.” The civilians stated, that they came down with inflammations because of the dirty water.
While the civilians were talking, we heard new gun shots. The SDF fighters decided to liberate another group of civilians, which led to heavy clashes between them and ISIS. ISIS members wanted to stop the civilians from leaving and planted mines right in front of them. So the SDF fighter’s goal was to call their attention to give the civilians the possibility to leave.
To prevent the civilians from being shot, the SDF fighters used a twofold strategy: military defence of the civilians and on the other hand to directly help them flee. SDF fighters helped carrying the children and – when reaching a place far away from the fight – organised cars to bring them to the safe areas. For our risk and sacrifice a smiling face of a rescued woman is the most valuable reward. Some women couldn’t hold oneself back, started crying and said: “May god be with you.” From far away, the civilians were still showing the sign of victory to us.”
Media and Press Center YPJ