After the Islamic State was expelled from the city of Mayadeen in the rural eastern part of the Deir-ez-Zor governorate in 2017, Iraqi and Afghan militias affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force took over the Al-Tamo neighbourhood. Residents displaced by the fighting are still barred from returning to their homes.
Mayadeen came under opposition control in 2012, and remained in rebel hands until mid-2014, when the Islamic State (IS) captured the city and made it the capital of their so-called “Al-Kheir State”, the administrative district established by ISIS in the area of Deir-ez-Zor, opening a court and administrative offices. In late 2017, militias loyal to Iran captured Mayadeen, making it one of its main hubs in eastern Syria.
The Abu Al-Fadel Al-Abbas Brigade, the Fatemiyoun Brigade, the Zeinabiyoun Brigade and the Grand Zeinab Forces are all deployed in Mayadeen, each with their own military headquarters and sites designated for housing their members.
Abu Omar, a resident displaced from the Al-Tamo neighbourhood, told The Syria Report’scorrespondent in the area that residents formed a delegation of 10 people. Before the end of 2020, the group met with militia leaders in control of the neighbourhood, demanding that residents be permitted to return to their houses. The militia leaders rejected the request, telling the delegation through an Iraqi translator – many of these leaders are Iranians – that the fighters had “come to the area to perform the sacred duty of jihad”, and that “residents must embrace those undertaking jihad.”
According to Abu Omar, none of the residents were allowed to return to the neighbourhood to inspect their properties. A portion of them were to rent homes in other areas of the city, or to move to other cities.
Around 1,500 people lived in Al-Tamo before 2017, according to unofficial local estimates. They are all Sunni Muslims, and most are from the Al-Mashahdeh tribe. The neighbourhood is home to spacious, multi-storey houses surrounded by fruit orchards, making the area ideal for concealing the movements of militia fighters.
Mohammad, a resident who was displaced from the neighbourhood, said that he has no option but to rent a home in a neighbouring area of Mayadeen at a monthly price of SYP 50,000. “I feel like I’m a refugee in my own city,” Mohammad told The Syria Report. “I can’t live in my house, and I use almost my entire monthly salary on rent.”
Beyond Al-Tamo, there were several other cases of home confiscation in other parts of Mayadeen. According to media reports from late 2020, Iranian militias confiscated 11 homes on Al-Jaish Street and nine homes on Al-Arbaeen Street, converting them into headquarters. Additionally, the Iraqi Haidariyoun Militia seized 10 homes on the main street of the town of Mahakan, which falls within the Mayadeen municipality, in order to secure a route for pilgrims coming from Iraq and Iran.
Source: Mayadeen Today page on Facebook.