March 9, 2015
The oil-rich eastern province of Deir e-Zor has been a main target of the US-led coalition’s aerial campaign against the Islamic State.
Hitting oil refineries and production centers, the coalition’s airstrikes have slowed IS’s sale of the lucrative resource, which once was its largest source of income, and led many to believe that IS is undergoing a financial crisis.
The loss of financial stability has coincided with clandestine attacks against members of the jihadist organization in the province, including numerous assassinations, because of its harsh rule over civilians.
The increased pressure from the coalition and local Syrians has caused defections in IS’s ranks and led to numerous attempts to escape, says Abu Mujahed, a former FSA fighter and now citizen journalist in the IS-controlled city of al-Mayadin.
It is only a matter of time before residents rise up against the Islamic State, Abu Mujahed tells Syria Direct’s Ammar Hamou.
“The revolution will happen for may reasons, including oppression against civilians, huge price increases, a lack of services and IS’s killing of young men in front of their families for no reason.”
Q: Will we hear about a popular revolution against IS in Deir e-Zor? If it happens, what will be the reasons for it?
Soon enough, in the upcoming months there will be a big revolution against IS. The revolution will happen for many reasons, including oppression against civilians, huge price increases, a lack of services and IS’s killing of young men in front of their families for no reason.
Coalition airstrikes target IS in al-Mayadin on Saturday. Photo courtesy of @Syriamubasher.
Q: Do you think that IS fighters will begin to believe that their “state” will fail? Why?
The Syrian fighters in IS, yes [they will believe the state will fail], as they see more IS losses and the increasing hate against them.
Q: What is the state of defections from IS? Are foreign fighters still coming to join IS?
Lately, there have been many defections and attempts to escape from IS. Some of them flee out of fear, some of them flee [having stolen] large amounts of money.
There has been a decrease in foreign fighters joining because of the horror of its crimes and because it does not follow sharia law.
Q: Why else have foreigners stopped joining IS?
I think they fear the collapse of IS and they don’t see its connection with Islam.
Q: Around 10 days ago IS demanded the names of young men in the Deir e-Zor countryside, reportedly to send them to Iraq to fight. Is the mandatory military service that IS imposes on civilians related to its decreasing popularity in the area?
IS started the mandatory military service for three major reasons:
- Losing its popularity.
- The continuous fleeing of its [foreign fighters] and [Syrian fighters] to Turkey because of IS’s deteriorating situation. Many of them stole money from Zakat [Islamic charity] and oil profits when they fled.
- IS’s attempts purge itself of its members that came from Jabhat a-Nusra and the FSA by sending them to the battles in Iraq. The best example is the people from outside al-Mayadin. They fled to Daraa and then returned when IS promised them safety, but then IS reneged on its promise and sent them to fight in Mosul.
Q: What are the reasons for the increase in people denouncing IS without fear, despite the brutality of its punishments?
Because of the way it treats people. In addition, some fighters have assaulted women in the rural areas, which challenges the chivalry and honor of the people.
Q: What were the public services like when IS first entered the area? Has IS withdrawn these services because of the financial crisis that it’s undergoing?
When it first entered [Deir e-Zor], IS undertook some simple public-works projects to attract attention and gain popular support. But after it learned about the oil profits in Deir e-Zor, it became solely interested running the oil wells and collecting money.
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