A mother from Raqqa asks SDF fighters: Will you save my children too?

The first question of the al Khanim family, one of the many families liberated during the second phase of the Wrath of Euphrates Operation, was “Will you save our children too?”

We met Khaliya al Khanim, who has not heard of her children since the beginning of 2015, during the Operation Wrath of Euphrates carried out in western Raqqa. Khaliya al Khanim’s first question was “Will you save our children too?”

The SDF fighter next to me told the 66 year-old al Khanim: “Yes, we will save your children and all of our people.” Afterwards, we said goodbye as we told al Khanim that we would see her soon. Three days later, we went to the village of Hemra and knocked on the door of Khaliya al Khanim. After having some tea, we started to talk. Al Khanim is a resident of Hemra village in western Raqqa and said that ISIS gangs kidnapped her sons 2 years ago after accusing them of different crimes. Al Khanim noted that the gangs have seized their house in Raqqa city center, and said “I went to the gangs so that they return our house. An ISIS gang leader offered me money, but I refused. He then assaulted me and threw me out of the house.” Al Khanim therewith moved to her house in Hemra village.

She told that they had run a restaurant before the civil war which has made everything worse since it began in 2011. They were in good financial situation but their restaurant was bombed and destroyed during the fighting between the Ba’athist regime and al Nusra and other gang groups.

After the destruction of their only source of income, al Khanim’s sons Mistefa and Hemûde started to work at a restaurant in Raqqa city center and visited their mother twice a week to give her money. During their last visit, Mistefa and Hemûde told al Khanim that ISIS gangs were bothering them, and al Khanim asked them to quit work and stay at home. Mistefa and Hemûde said that they needed to work, and left their mother’s house to never return.

Al Khanim said “I was worried about my sons so I began to investigate. I went to their employer and he told me that he had not seen them for 5 days. The owner of a shop near the restaurant my sons worked at approached me secretly and told me that he saw my sons beaten up and put in a car by ISIS gangs.” Khaniya al Khanim believes that ISIS still has Mistefa and Hemûde but is scared to approach the gangs in order to retrieve her sons.

Therefore, Khaniya al Khanim stated that her only hope for the freedom of her sons is that SDF fighters liberate Raqqa and retrieve her sons from ISIS gangs.