The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been attempting to become influential in Syria and Rojava since spring last year, leaves only wreckage in the places through which it passes. In recent days ISIS retreated from the villages of Dêrcêmêl, Keferğan, Keştear and the Menagh aerodrome in the A'zaz district to the north of Aleppo, after destroying anything that could serve humanity. It has also emerged after the discovery of a mass grave containing 20 bodies in the garden of a villa near Faisal's mill that these gangs have turned the area into one of mass graves.
Like the Mongols
After the Al Nusra Front had been put on the international list of terrorist organisations, the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria began to be heard. It attacked places that had been taken from the Ba'ath regime by the Free Syrian Army and in a short time established its authority in these areas. One of these area was the district of A'zaz. When it withdrew from the area 4 days ago what it left behind resembled the destruction and towers of human skulls left behind by the Mongols.
Mass grave near Faisal's mill
Faisal’s mill is known to be the biggest flour factory north of Aleppo, and was established between Keştear and the Menagh aerodrome. ISIS took over the mill in early 2013, and arrested the owner of the factory, Faisal Feyiz Veysi and his brother Fatih Feyiz Veysi. Nothing has been heard of them since.
This factory produced 400 tonnes of flour a day and met the needs of hundreds of villages and towns, including Afrin and 365 villages in the surrounding area. Bread for millions of people in the districts of Al Bab, Manbij, Tell Rifaat and Daret Azze was made from flour produced in this factory.
Before leaving the area four days ago the gangs put anything they could carry onto trucks and then blew up the factory. Local people in Keştear and the surrounding area said the factory had been functioning until the gangs withdrew, adding that what they had done was inhuman.
After ISIS had withdrawn the Al Akrad Front, Ahfad-i Murselin and Liwa al-Fatah groups tried to protect what was left of the factory and discovered another reality of ISIS in the garden of Faisal Veysi's villa: a mass grave containing 20 bodies. The bodies are thought to be those of people abducted from Tell Rifaat and neighbouring villages and were taken to Tell Rifaat.
Looting in Keştear village
The village of Keştear suffered the most from the depredations of ISIS. The local inhabitants, who were too frightened to give their names or have their picture taken, said that every house in the village had been looted of valuables and that many people had had vehicles and tractors seized on the grounds they supported the YPG and PYD. Every house bore bullet holes and none had any windows intact.
Menagh aerodrome now just debris
On the way from Faisal's factory to the Menagh aerodrome which was besieged by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) for a long time the destruction wreaked by ISIS is plain to see. The Menagh aerodrome was built 10 kilometres from A'zaz on the Aleppo road and was a military aerodrome used as a training base by the Syrian regime. Before the conflict started around 2,000 personnel would receive training there. Although it was built for training purposes it was also intended to serve as a military base in case of war. When conflict began the base was besieged by the FSA towards the end of 2012.
Some soldiers were killed and others surrendered to the FSA, and in late summer 2013 the remaining 500 soldiers fled to the towns of Nibil and Zehra. A group of around 70 were ambushed by the YPG and taken prisoner along with 5 tanks.
The soldiers left behind 6 helicopters and 3 tanks that they put out of action. The ISIS gangs left recently, blowing up with explosives everything, including the non-functioning helicopters and tanks.