Teenage brides trapped between Islamic State and its victors
Rawan Aboud tried to escape Islamic State after the death of her abusive first husband, a militant killed fighting for the group. She was jailed and...
Rawan Aboud tried to escape Islamic State after the death of her abusive first husband, a militant killed fighting for the group. She was jailed and forced to marry another fighter. When he died, she finally fled. Now she is interned with fanatic supporters of the violent jihadist group she has sought refuge from since the age of 13.
"I married at the age of 12," said the Syrian girl, now 18. "My husband then brought me to Raqqa. He beat me and said I was an apostate for trying to leave."
Thousands of women, especially foreigners who flocked from Europe and North African countries, willingly joined Islamic State, subscribing to its brutal interpretation of Islam and marrying militants.
Some remain ardent supporters of its ideology and live in camps they fled to in eastern Syria which are under the control of the US-backed forces that drove IS from its final piece of territory last month.
But many like Aboud, married off by conservative Muslim families in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, had no choice. Aboud, several Syrians and a Lebanese woman also wed as a child to a man who joined IS are now detained alongside its die-hard adherents in a guarded section of al-Hol camp.
Regarded as suspect by Kurdish-led forces that helped defeat the jihadists and persecuted by women they are locked up with, they fear they will rot in detention or face death at the hands of their extreme fellow detainees.
Aboud has spent three months at al-Hol along with more than 60,000 people who fled the battle for Baghouz, the final shred of populated territory that Islamic State had held until its defeat there last month.
Aboud tried to flee IS territory and was jailed in its Raqqa stronghold. When the US coalition began bombing the city, her nine-month-old daughter was killed.
Militants moved her and other women from town to town as they retreated and married her to another fighter who also got killed several months ago. She then escaped with her other daughter, now four.
They face an uncertain future. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that run the camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her detention.