Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Bermuda: A documentary report on crimes committed by ISIS in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor

Due to the importance our report Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Bermuda and due to our commitment to document the course of the atrocities, intimidation and crimes by the Islamic State (IS) group against the people of Deir al-Zor province, and since the report has already been issued in a broken English depending on the limited capabilities of our foundation and lack of efficient staff, many experts and researchers who are friends of ours advised to improve the quality of our work in English. Therefore, we have re-worked on the report and thus present you a new well-edited version with the full statements and affidavits of the victims in addition to the details of the commission of those violations.

We hope you provide us with constant observations and comments regarding this reports and our coming reports. We would also like to thank our friends and readers who advised us to produce a well-edited version of the report.

Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Bermuda

A documentary report on crimes committed by ISIS in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor

To read the full text of the report, please click here: Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Bermuda 

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (Birati) through its Fraternity Center for Terrorism and Extremism Research (FCTER) has issued this report under the title Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Bermuda to uncover the intricacies in one of the most significant Syrian cities under ISIS control.

The report covers the period between mid-2013 until the end of 2016, and addresses many crimes committed by ISIS against the residents of the rural areas of Deir al-Zor province and its districts of Mayadin and Al-Bukamal.

The report of 24 pages focuses on three qualitative crimes of seven cases, supported by nine testimonies of victims and eyewitnesses from the above-mentioned areas. These crimes are about forced displacement committed by ISIS in the areas of Khasham, Tabiah Jazeera, and Conoco gas station in addition to the displacement of Al-Sheitaat’s tribe from their villages of Abu Hamam, al-Keshkiah and Karaneej.

A victim of Al-Sheitaat tribe says, “My brothers were killed in the battles, and ISIS occupied our village, Karaneej. They looted our houses. They did not even spare the animals; they stole the sheep and cows. Five months had passed and ISIS did not allow us to return to our houses, as they closed down whoever tried to return.”

The report focuses on the crimes against children, including recruitment of children, which is a war crime according to the International Humanitarian Law, namely the rules of child protection in the International Humanitarian Law, in which the two protocols attached to the four Geneva Conventions in 1949 were the first two international documents that dealt openly and directly with the recruitment of children and the use of children in armed conflicts. The first protocol regarding the protection of victims of international armed conflicts comprises an explicit text in this regard.

The second paragraph of Article 77 “Children Protection” states, “The Parties of the conflict shall take all feasible measures that insure that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, these parties shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces.”

The second protocol regarding the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts includes an evident provision too. The third paragraph of its fourth article states, “Children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities.”

The report Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Bermuda addresses three kinds of violations that are amounted to major war crimes:

1- Forced displacement against civilians by confiscating their houses, evicting people and displacing them.

2- Systematic violence against civilians by terrifying them.

3- Crimes of recruiting children.

The report is divided according to the crimes as following:

A – Crimes of forced displacement against civilians.

B – Crimes of forced displacement against Al-Sheitaat tribe.

C – Crimes of recruiting children.

The field reporters and authors of the report faced a lot of difficulties including dangerous security circumstances during their investigations in the areas under ISIS control. They were forced to sneak through uninhabited countryside to avoid ISIS’ spies, and to keep the witnesses and victims safe.

The reporters followed a methodology relied on direct meetings with victims and conducting voice recordings which were deleted after writing them down, and all documenting files containing the affidavits were disposed after copying and sending them to the authors and editors of the report.

All victims and witnesses are given pseudonyms due to the sensitivity of the security condition. The report uses the initials of the pseudonyms, which are attached with details of age and place of these victims.

The report contains documented testimonies of the victims and their relatives. The crimes committed against civilians were confiscating their properties by the city’s notables and displacing them forcibly in cruel and bad circumstances, and thus the victims lived in the wilderness for approximately two months.

One of the victims says, “After we were displaced by ISIS, we lived with our children in the wilderness for two months, and the number of the displaced was more than 20 thousand people at that time and also after two months.”

The report also addresses the crimes of recruiting children as well as exposure to psychological violence by indoctrinating them violent terrorist concepts, including training to use weapons, killing and preventing them from elementary education.

A child victim says, “We were watching the operations of killing that were committed by ISIS. One of the operations was slaughtering a tied victim; another one was killed by pistol and another by machine gun. Each member performs different kind of killing.”

On the recommendations of the report, Fraternity Foundation expresses its concern about the blackout surrounding the crimes committed in Deir al-Zor area and its countryside and recommends the following:

  1. The Foundation appeals to the international community to take effective measures to ensure humanitarian access to civilians trapped by ISIS, who uses the available means to control the region’s economic resources for the benefit of the extension of its control and control the course of living life.
  2. The Foundation hopes from the European courts and the Security Council to refer the crimes files committed by ISIS in Syria urgently to the International Criminal Court, as the Foundation supports the orientations of the European Union to open up international tribunals to prosecute the war criminals, where a lot of them are believed to be in the European Union countries.
  3. The Foundation follows up with concern the weakness of the Syrian organizations regarding investigating violations committed in Syria, and deplores the focus on the crimes committed by the Syrian regime only, and the deliberate ignorance of the course of what is happening in Deir al-Zor area.
  4. We appeal to the European governments and the United Nations and in particular the Human Rights Council the need to support the work of independent human rights organizations wishing to conduct adequate investigations into the militant group crimes in Syria and Iraq, and to provide what is necessary for the development of their work and the sustainability of the ability of employees to provide all documentary information to identify war criminals in Syria, and to start to bring them officially to the international justice.
  5. According to the data that confirms entrenched tribal traditions and tribal dealing in the region, which is believed to generate revenge and reprisals if the defeat of ISIS may take place in the future, we hope from those who are interested and based on the peace process in Syria to make sure and ensure the provision of all resources necessary to avert future disaster in the area. This comes by a real involvement of the inhabitants of Deir al-Zor in the peace negotiations and delivering the necessary expertise, skills and capabilities of the actors in the civil society such as activists who had fled out.


Last but not least, our Fraternity Center for Terrorism and Extremism Research (FCTER) will continue its investigations to uncover all the crimes and abuses committed in Syria hoping to achieve justice and compensation for the victims of the crimes and violations.

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (Birati) will also constantly work depending on the limited capabilities and staff. We, the “Birati” staff, calls on all the organizations and activists who are working in this field to help us and for achieving justice in Syria.

To read all reports issued by our foundation, please click here. all reports

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (Birati)

3 March, 2017