ICC Note: When ISIS is pushed out of a territory Christians are wanting to go back, but often the area is littered with land mines awaiting the return of village residents. Kurdish fighters and militiamen are sweeping homes and farms with families after ISIS’s retreat, but are finding themselves unprepared and untrained to deal with this problem effectively. Many have died trying to dismantle landmines, fighters and civilians alike. ISIS terror remains long after the fighters have been driven out.
07-18-2015 Iraq/Syria (International Business Times): When Fatima returned to her home in Khabur in northeastern Syria last week, she found herself eye level with a sign that read, “Property of the Islamic State.” The militant group was pushed out of the Assyrian Christian-majority town by Kurdish and Syrian militias last month, but returning residents have been greeted with grim reminders of its recent occupation.
The extremist group formerly known as ISIS has planted land mines across its territories in Syria and Iraq. Militants have reportedly hidden mines in civilian homes, on farms, in fields and among ancient ruins. When Fatima, whose name has been changed for security reasons, opened her refrigerator, she found an undetonated land mine on her vegetable shelf.
The fuse on Fatima’s fridge mine was broken, so it did not detonate. She called the Syriac Military Council (MFS) militia, members of which arrived to destroy the small explosive device and carry out a thorough search of her home, where they uncovered other mines in the bathroom and bedroom.
“At the moment, Islamic State is leaving mines in almost every battlefield because of [a] fear of losing battleground,” said Diana Yaqco, the media-relations manager at A Demand for Action, a group focused on protecting the rights of Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs in the region.
Mines allow the Islamic State group to continue to terrorize a population even after it’s been pushed out of a territory it once controlled. When the extremist group enters a town or village, residents frequently flee to neighboring cities. Militants subsequently place mines in civilian areas to prevent residents from returning. When they do return, a device planted underground can be triggered by a bicycle or a child’s footsteps.