ISIS Holds Families as Human Shields in Last Stronghold as SDF Negotiates to Free Them
20 February 2019
Early in the morning on 19 Feb., 40 men, women, and children fled Baghuz, the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.
An unknown number of civilians remain trapped in a tent city on the southeast edge of Baghuz. ISIS fighters are among them and do not let people flee. People are shot as they try to escape and the families who got out on Tuesday said they had been trying to flee for weeks. They were able to bribe a guard and sneak out Monday evening, hiding until Tuesday morning when they walked to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) lines.
“We were told we would be killed if we tried to escape and even if we made it, the enemy [SDF] would kill us,” they said. “But we were desperate and so we ran away and now we see you all help us and are kind and do not kill us. Thank you, thank you.”
We fed and gave medical treatment and blankets to these families, and pray for the others still trapped. We pray that all can break free. ISIS holds very little ground but since they are among the IDPs it is hard to rescue the families. The SDF are doing their best to find a solution.
Complicating the issue is the fact that almost all these families are ISIS families and some believe the ISIS cause is just. So, we are careful when we meet them and bring them up to the collection point but overall we pray and ask for God’s love to work through us to them.
“The way of ISIS, the way of hate is over,” we tell them. “Yes, there are injustices but ISIS will never give you justice. It is the wrong way. Ask God for a new way and be thankful you are live and that the SDF are merciful to you.”
We pray with them and with the help of the SDF do our best to help them. The SDF are trying to negotiate to get all the women and children out.