It has been four years since Turkey launched its first operation in northern Syria, Operation Euphrates Shield, with an aim to clear the region of terrorist elements such as Daesh. However, despite the elapsed time, locals, especially women, in the liberated Syrian provinces still struggle to leave behind the trauma of the Daesh occupation as memories from that time continue to haunt them.
Turkey's Interior Ministry recently released a booklet on humanitarian security in liberated northwestern Syria which sheds light on the women's suffering in the region. The booklet makes a comparison between the past and the present in an attempt to analyze Turkey's contribution to humanitarian security in the region. The booklet, which includes interviews with about 300 Syrians from the provinces of Azaz, al-Rai, Jarablus, al-Bab, Afrin and Jindires, particularly focuses on the social, economic and psychological troubles that Syrian women faced during the Daesh occupation.
One of the main problems that the interviewed women addressed was the inability to access health services due to Daesh's restrictions. According to the statements, women were only allowed to be treated by female doctors, which limited their health access remarkably due to the lack of female doctors in the region.
"During the Daesh occupation, we were not allowed to go out. Many patients died since they were unable to leave the house," a woman from al-Bab said, adding that there are now three or four doctors in al-Bab, enabling them to go and receive treatment whenever they need it.
Another woman expressed that they were unable to see a doctor even if they were allowed to because of the constant violence on the streets. During the Daesh era, medical procedures could only be done in al-Bab, the woman added.
According to the booklet, most of the health problems faced by the women in the region stem from bearing children at very young ages. This is why a lot of attention is focused on the health of women and infants. Thanks to the normalization steps Turkey has taken in the region, there have been reasonable improvements in women's and children's health, the report says.
A woman from a health center in Jindires said that thanks to Turkey's efforts, the locals are now able to receive information on how to stay healthy and avoid diseases.
The Daesh terrorist group held vast swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq from its rise in 2014 until its military defeat last year.
Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Daesh as a terror group in 2013, soon after it emerged. The country has since been attacked by Daesh terrorists numerous times, including in 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings and four armed attacks that killed 315 people and injured hundreds of others.
In response, Turkey launched military and police operations at home and abroad to prevent further terrorist attacks.
Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, facilitating the return of 400,000 Syrians who fled the region amid terror threats.
Torture as common practice for Daesh
When it comes to personal security, the booklet says that during the Daesh occupation, people were being executed in the streets while some women were enslaved and children were forcibly recruited.
Torture was a common practice among Daesh terrorists, so much so that a public building in Jarablus turned into a torture center at that time, the report says.
Extrajudicial executions were another practice for Daesh, which operated in a "denouncing" system that punished many innocent people without any proof of a crime committed.
A local security forces member in al-Bab stated that they were constantly "facing death" during the Daesh era.
"A woman was punished for standing in front of her house although she was wearing a headscarf. She was forced to receive religious education. A man was punished by being forced to run as the terrorists were shooting toward his feet. He was punished for his wife's crime, which was not wearing a black veil," he said.
"They (Daesh terrorists) were demanding the women they like from their families. If the father was to object, they would either arrest or kill him. They manage to get that woman somehow," said another member of the local security forces.
She added that after three months of marriage, they would marry off the woman to another Daesh terrorist by simply saying, "I divorce her," and this cycle was repeated over and over again.
"The women were being used sexually at all times," she highlighted.
Daesh’s expansion in Iraq and Syria featured horrendous public abuses. Largely unseen but equally egregious were the widespread detentions and kidnappings by the terrorist organizations, in which thousands of people were snatched from their homes, cars and at checkpoints and subsequently went missing. The terrorist organization also frequently filmed its members executing the people it abducted or detained. Daesh systematically committed torture, rapes, forced marriages, extreme acts of ethnic cleansing, mass murder, genocide, robbery, extortion, smuggling, slavery, kidnappings and the use of child soldiers.
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