Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

The Ruins Left by Islamic State

A town left devastated by a long period of occupation.
By Bukhityar Hassan
  • The building that IS used as its headquarters. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    The building that IS used as its headquarters. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • The remains of the town’s power station. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    The remains of the town’s power station. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • The electricity department did not function for months after the town was liberated. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    The electricity department did not function for months after the town was liberated. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • Two nurses who work at the town’s medical centre (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    Two nurses who work at the town’s medical centre (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • Limited ammounts of basic first aid kits and medicine are available at the medical centre. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    Limited ammounts of basic first aid kits and medicine are available at the medical centre. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • Al-Azil pharmacy now also serves coffee. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    Al-Azil pharmacy now also serves coffee. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • The head of the town’s primary school with some of his students. They still have no textbooks. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    The head of the town’s primary school with some of his students. They still have no textbooks. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • The town’s water department is no longer operational. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    The town’s water department is no longer operational. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • Bullets damaged the main water tank beyond repair. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    Bullets damaged the main water tank beyond repair. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
  • Small portable tanks are used to distribute the town’s water supplies. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)
    Small portable tanks are used to distribute the town’s water supplies. (Photo: Bukhityar Hassan)

The Islamic State [IS] controlled the town of Tal Hamis, south of the city of Qamishli, for almost two years.

In late February 2015, following weeks of fighting supported by US-led coalition airstrikes, the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units [YPG] managed to push IS out of Tal Hamis and its surroundings.

After the town was liberated, less than half of its 20,000 residents returned.

The rest remain displaced in nearby villages or in Qamishli, living in partially destroyed buildings.   

Those who came back face difficult living conditions, given the damage to the town’s infrastructure and public services such as water, electricity, agriculture, health and education.

Damascus Bureau’s Bukhityar Hassan visited the town and took the above photographs.

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