Serê Kaniyê IDPs.. between the harshness of displacement and the fear of return

Izzeddin Saleh

“Ayoub Iyana”, a recently displaced person from the city of Serê Kaniyê, sits next to his mother’s grave in the cemetery of the town of Kafr Batna in the countryside of Damascus, and the sadness is clear on the features of his face because he could not fulfill his mother’s last will to bury her body next to his father’s grave in the cemetry of Serê Kaniyê.

The suffer thay the old women “Moufida Ramadan” endured, the mother of “Ayoub” during the journey of displacement, led to the deterioration of her health condition, before she was lost her life on the fifth of last November, that is less than a month after her displacement accompanied by her son’s family and grandson from Serê Kaniyê, followed the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria.

The military offensive launched by Turkey and the Syrian Islamic radical factions supported by “Ankara” resulted in the control of a 120-km-long border strip between Serê Kaniyê and Girê Spî after violent battles against the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF, which announced their withdrawal on October 20, according to an agreement between Ankara and Washington announced on the seventeenth of the same month, stipulates the suspension of Turkish military operations in northern Syria, and the withdrawal of “SDF” to a depth of (32) kilometers.

“It was a sudden and arduous displacement,” Ayoub says, during his talk to SHAR Magazine, “At four o’clock in the evening that day, we were surprised that the city was targeted by air strikes, followed by fierce artillery shelling, everyone hurried to survive by himself and his family, there was no time to think. I joined the convoys of fleeing, with my mother, my family, and my son’s family, we settled finally in the city of Hasaka, without taking anything with us, leaving everything we had behind us,”.

Three days after they displaced to the city of Hasaka, Ayoub’s family decided to move to Damascus, but the road to the Syrian capital was more difficult than they had expected, after his mother, son, wife, and infant grandson had to return from the middle of the road, because they did not have personal IDs. “My mother forgot her personal ID card at home, as did my son’s family, so the Syrian government forces checkpoint near the city of Tabqa did not allow them to pass, despite our attempt to persuade the checkpoint soldiers, who dealt with us rudely, so my mother, my son, his wife and my infant grandson had to return to the city of Hasaka, disappointed, and they stayed there for three days, before obtaining identification documents from government departments, and then they joined us, while my mother was not able to stand and walk,” Ayoub says.

The tragedies of Ayoub did not end with his displacement, he heard also from his neighbors who returned to Serê Kaniyê that the radical factions of the Syrian opposition seized his house and his son’s house in the “Ronahi” neighborhood, after looting the furniture, as well as his library, they also bombed one of his cars, which he left behind in the city. He mourns sadly while lookinh to his mobile phone screen that shows pictures of his bombed car, and says: “The neighbors told me that the terrorists tried to turn on my car with to steal it, but they did not succeed, because the engine was broken, so they bombed it, as they took over my house and my son’s house after stealing all of its expensive content, as well as the office of a transportation company “Haval” that I was managing in the city garage, under the pretext that my son and I worked previously in the “Komin” of the self-administration,”.

In addition, Ayoub recently received threats from these factions, by arresting him and his son if any of them thinks of returning to the city again, which increased the sorrow of his family. “They asked the neighbors to tell us not to come back again, vowing to arrest us if we thought about it, and that everything we have is now owned by them. So painful that you can not return to your home,” Ayoub tells SHAR Magazine.

In a report, Human Rights Watch accused the Syrian-led factions of the Syrian National Army of preventing the return of displaced Kurdish families as a result of the Turkish military operations, and looting their property and illegally seizing or occupying it. Those practices, according to Human Rights Watch, are compelling evidence that the proposed safe zone of Turkey will not be safe. Contrary to the Turkish narrative that their operation will establish a safe zone, the factions that Turkey use them to control the region commit violations against civilians and are discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity.

Ayoub is now living with his wife, his son’s family, his married daughter, and her two children in an old house that he rented in the countryside of Damascus, as he seeks to secure his family’s daily sustenance, in addition to the expenses of treating his cancer-afflicted wife, but he still hopes to return to his home after the war ends and peace prevails.