This Ramadan, the markets and streets of Raqqa are bustling as Eid al-Fitr approaches, with people starting to experience normality once again after years of war.
This year has been the most stable for the people of Raqqa after a lengthy period of ISIS rule and post-ISIS issues such as the reconstruction of heavily damaged infrastructure and the de-mining process of the city.
The last few years had seen the local residents celebrate Eid al-Fitr in a tense atmosphere as a result of the ISIS repressions and ensuing security issues. Nevertheless, these tensions have by and large been alleviated thanks to the efforts of the local and regional political authorities and security personnel, paving the way for a joyful celebration of the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.
Economic dynamism has gripped the city that formerly represented the epicentre of ISIS so-called “Islamic State” in Syria. Shops are filled with people making preparations for the Eid celebrations. The difference between this year and previous years is stark for local residents and shop owners:
“It wasn’t like this last year as most shops were closed. Now, all the shops in the market are open, and the people, who had fled to Manbij and Tabqa, have returned. The situation is very good”, said Yazan, a local resident in the city of Raqqa.
“I’ve got a shop and noticed that the people’s turnout is higher than last year’s, even in the countryside. Buying and selling have increased significantly in the province and the atmosphere differs from the previous years. People are happy, feeling safe, shopping, and living their lives normally. There is security and people are optimistic”, noted Qais, a shop owner in Raqqa.
Raqqa was liberated from ISIS militants in October 2017 by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The region is now under the political control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. The local Raqqa Civil Council has been involved in most of the work to reconstruct and rehabilitate the city following months of military combat with ISIS that caused ample damage and destruction in the city.