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Another Journey…

Hareth Najem managed to flee the last enclave of the ISIS in eastern Syria, wounded & alone, finally. The Iraqi teenager was lucky enough to reach his motherland, as other family members of the orphaned young man had perished two years ago in air strikes across the border in the al-Qaim region!
Before leaving Syria, he shared his story with some journalists… stretched under a blanket in a truck near the Syrian village of Baghouz, the16-year-old Hareth said: “I had two brothers and a sister. They all died, and then I was by myself. My little sister, I loved her a lot. I used to take her with me to the market.” He was lying in a cattle truck with other injured boys, at a desert transit point for US-backed forces, face smeared in dirt, with the left side of his head wrapped with bandages, covering wounds he had received a couple of days back…

Hareth (R) lies under a blanket in a truck

Hareth was just 11, when thousands of people in Iraq and Syria were killed in an aerial attack by the US-led forces on the ISIS terrorists. Some of the parents had brought their children to the terrorists. While some of those children were foreigners, others were child-fighters, popularly known as the ‘cubs of the Caliphate’. There were also some members of the Yazidi minority, who were enslaved by the terrorists! All of them were being raised under the ISIS rule!
Many of these teenagers had watched their parents getting killed by the enemies in front of them… and 20 such teens “mainly from Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Indonesia“, recently crossed the Frontline at their own risk! A senior officer of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that each and every man and teenage boy in Baghouz was somewhat closely connected with the ISIS. Adnan Afrin, a senior SDF Commander, mentioned that the SDF had arrested those children whose fathers were fighters, belonging to the ISIS… “These kids have nobody. They need somebody to take care of them, to provide mental health support,” stressed Afrin, adding that some of them had gone hungry for days! Finally, the SDF handed these teenagers over to a Voluntary Organisation.

A Syrian refugee woman crosses into Turkey with her children at the Akcakale border gate

However, Hareth claimed that he had no connection with the ISIS. He was heard telling the media that his family used to run a stall at a local market. After the unfortunate annihilation of his family members, he – with other children – had crossed the border and reached Syria. Hareth further claimed that he had refused to attend schools run by the terrorists, or to receive military training. That was why the ISIS Morality Police had whipped him. “They gave speeches at the mosques – jihad and whatnot. I was scared of them. My whole family died because of them,” stressed the 16-year-old…
Upon his arrival in Baghouz, Hareth started working in a field in return for a room to sleep in. He also tried to save enough money in order to go home. Unfortunately, the terrorists snatched his money and did not allow him to leave the village. According to Hareth, he was standing at the bank of the river Euphrates, when a shell fell near the river, in the third week of February and he had received injuries in his ear, hand and stomach! Now, the Iraqi boy is receiving treatment in a hospital. Hareth is now ready to return to his relatives who still are in Iraq.

A child looks out from under a blanket near the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria on March 1, 2019

I want to go look for them… when I get better and my body recovers, when I can walk, I want to go back, to become a young man again, to build a future again…” Hareth was heard insisting on it!!!

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