Conflicts & War

Scars of IS presence linger in former bastion in Syria

By Rania Zanoun

Deir al-Zour, Syria, Sep 9 (EFE).- Deir al-Zour, a former Islamic State bastion in Syria, is still coming to terms with the destruction caused by the war against the terrorist organization, with the road to recovery weighed down by complex power dynamics within the eastern province.

Four years ago, the Syrian government forces managed to break the siege imposed by extremists on several areas of the city that had remained under regime control when IS conquered the region, alongside other districts in northeastern Syria, in 2014.

But Deir al-Zour, the capital of the province of the same name, is still in ruins, with a display of destroyed and damaged buildings scattered throughout the area.

“We go back to the past with our memories, but it is impossible for the city to ever return to the way it was before,” resident Hamad al-Abbas tells Efe while walking with a cane on a mountain of rubble.

The city “is lost and will not go back” to what it once was before the jihadist group yoked it down and its residents were caught in the crossfire of numerous battles, according to al-Abbas.

The authorities blame the slow reconstruction process on the lack of necessary materials in the region, given the sanctions imposed by the United States and other international actors on Bashar al-Assad.

Fadel Najjar, the governor of Deir al-Zour, said he has provided licenses to local quarries in an attempt to fill shortages of products and raw materials in the city, which has a population of 1 million people.

Listing achievements from the past four years, Najjar said that 67 out of the 71 water stations in Deir al-Zour have been restored, and 42 medical centers are operational.

In 2019, the reconstruction of infrastructure and services was limited in the Deir al-Zour neighborhoods, which were besieged by IS but remained under government control, according to the European University Institute.

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