Jaysh al-Islam's Former Captive: 'They Punished Us With Whips and Iron Rods'
Syrians who had been held captive by the Jaysh al-Islam group in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta have shared details of their frightening experience in an interview with Sputnik.
“We’ve been born again today. We’ve abandoned any hope to see our friends and family again” – that was the start of the story of Merwet Selim, a 38-year-old woman freed from Eastern Ghouta’s Et-Tawba prison. With other prisoners she’s been humiliated, tortured, she suffered from cold and hunger.
Merwet, who lived in the City of Adra labor, was kidnapped by the terrorists 5 years ago. She still knows nothing of her husband’s lot. Together with lots of other Syrian military officers, she’d been kidnapped and taken to an unknown location by the Jaysh al-Islam fighters.
“There were 240 of us but then we were divided into groups. Women weren’t allowed to see men. The prisoners were allowed to meet with their children only once in fifteen days” – Merwet said. “All the women were given copies of the Quran though nobody forced us to read it. We were allowed to wear only abayas. The only medicine that we had was Acamol capsules. There was no hot water and electricity. We weren’t allowed even to talk” – she added. Merwet Selim says they still can’t fully realize they’re free. Their joy’s mixed with pain and fear that are embedded in their hearts.
Freed Abdel Latif al Seyid is a military officer. He’s 23 now. He told Sputnik that in Eastern Ghouta were kept in hellish conditions. On the one hand, they were always afraid to be bitten or tortured and on the other hand, it was impossible to stand the backbreaking job of digging tank-cuts and tunnels.
“I was captured in the village of Hosh Farrah. Many prisoners had been killed in all these years. They punished us with whips and iron rods. The fighters didn’t let us look up. You had to dig tunnels and carry stones to get food. For disobedience any person was immediately killed by the Jaysh al-Islam fighters” – the young man told Sputnik.
“Our first meal was only at midday – a slice of bread and a handful of rice. Sometimes there was no food all day long. There was a roll-call every morning. Women and men weren’t allowed to see each other. I witnessed many executions” – Abdel Latif al Seyid said.
“The Jaysh al-Islam fighters were punishing prisoners for their own failures. Ex-military officers suffered the most – they were beaten into oblivion. A lot of women died due to harsh conditions: the food was raw and inedible. Once in 10 days, we could take a cold shower without any soap. We’d been divided into several groups and took turns in cooking and cleaning. Those unable to work were lashed and given electric shocks” — Fatima Salim said.
The Et-Tawba prisoners served a human shield for the terrorists to avoid the governmental forces’ attack.