THE SYRIAN CITY OF RAQQA IS STILL A MESS ONE YEAR AFTER BEING LIBERATED FROM DAESH WITH BODIES STILL UNDER RUBBLE, LITTLE RECONSTRUCTION TAKING PLACE AND NO RESOURCES TO HELP TRAUMATISED CIVILIANS
Ayear after Raqqa’s fall to Us-backed Kurdish forces, residents who dared to move back to this once great Syrian city live in fear of daily bombings and shootings by Daesh underground fighters who return in secret. Checkpoints, foot patrols and armoured vehicles do not halt the infiltrations.
Parents are afraid to send children to school. Many women continue to don the niqab, fearing the return of Daesh which captured the city from al-qaeda’s Nusra front and Free Syrian Army insurgents who had occupied Raqqa in 2013.
After taking control in January 2014, Daesh executed Alawites and supporters of the government and razed Shia mosques and Christian churches. The Armenian Catholic church was turned into a Daesh police headquarters and a centre for recruiting fighters. Christians, who had been 10 per cent of the pre-war residents of more than 350,000-400,000 fled the city. At the time Raqqa fell, its population had tripled due to an influx of internally displaced and had been designated a demilitarised refuge. This status was ignored by the
Free Syrian Army, Nusra, and later Daesh.
During the June-october Usdominated campaign to capture Raqqa, human rights groups estimate between 6,375 and 9,790 civilians were killed. Amnesty International has condemned members of the Us-led coaltion for failing “to admit to, let alone adequately investigate, the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction it caused in Raqqa.” Amnesty called the denial “a slap in the face (of) survivors trying to rebuild their lives and their city.”
In a letter to Amnesty dated
A father and his son walk past destroyed buildings in the town of Dibsi Afnan in the countryside of Raqqa province, Syria.