Crucifixions, beheadings and life in Isil-held Syria as revealed by refugees fleeing the terror to Shona Murray in Beirut,
‘WE saw the slaughter with our bare eyes. We saw them beheading men in front of our eyes in the centre of our town.
“When we were escaping, there were heads on spikes on each route outside the city, just to remind us all of what can happen,” says 39-year-old Umma Abed from Deir ez-Zor in Isil-held Syria.
Umma Abed and her four daughters and two sons fled Isil’s control and managed to get to Lebanon late last year.
“They’re not Syrians – I heard English accents; Tunisians. When they came first, they searched our house, and said ‘do you have any infidels here?’
“I said no, we are just with God; we just want to live, and eat and save my children.
“My daughter fainted, she was so frightened; my son, Abed was crying”.
The family are farmers, and owned five hectares of wheat – much of which they were eventually forced to hand over to the local Isil militants.
Isil captured the town of Deir ez-Zor late last July, during a series of lightning advances in Iraq and Syria. Its headquarters in Syria is in the city of Raqqa, next to Deir ez-Zor.
“We were working in the land; one day a missile landed 20 feet from us, and I knew Daesh [local name for Isis] was coming.”
When they came, “there was no mercy”, she says.
“I have daughters, and if one of them went outside without their face covered, their father would be flogged 80 times.
“This is how they used to make us wear our niqab,” Umma Abed demonstrates with her headscarf, fully covering her face.
“The Isil female police would arrest us if we went outside without our husband or other men; they would have us flogged. If my son was sick, I couldn’t take him to the hospital unless there was a man.
“One day I was with my son and husband in the town, and they had just crucified a local man, and my son asked me, ‘what is happening, why are they doing this’, and I kept telling him that it was a statue, and not real. He said ‘no, it looks like a real man’.
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