Aid & Development

In Raqqa, residents are continuing with their lives as normal one year after ISIS


Residents in the Syrian city of Raqqa are doing all they can to remove remnants of ISIS' destructive rule in the city. Amongst the things that they are doing is changing the names of the streets, which were named by ISIS.

Following the defeat of ISIS in the Syrian city of Raqqa in October 2017, citizens are gradually returning to their normal day-to-day lives. One of the most critical steps for the return of normalcy is changing the names of the streets that ISIS renamed after the occupation. The names that ISIS gave to the roads and squares of Raqqa remind the citizens of the cruelty and brutality of the militant organisation. One of the citizens recalls how the militant organisation changed the name of Bliss Square into “Hell Square,” and proceeded to torture and punish citizens there.

“They brought people here and beheaded them. Then, they used to hang their heads over their bodies to scare and terrify the population,” said one of the city’s residents.

Despite the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa, citizens there continue to live in the fear that the militant organisation instilled upon them. Furthermore, ISIS sleeper cells continue to hide in the city, attacking and kidnapping citizens on a daily basis.

“There are many sleeper cells, and not all of them belong to ISIS,” said Leila Mustafa, the head of the Joint Civil Council in Raqqa. “There are ISIS’s sleeper cells, and there are other sleeper cells that belong to some terrorist groups.”

When asked about ISIS’ brutality one of the citizens replied with “I can’t answer this question,” in fear of retaliation by ISIS sleeper cells that remain in the city.

Following ISIS’ defeat over 150,000 citizens returned to the city in hopes of rebuilding their city after the devastation that was inflicted upon it by ISIS and the battles to rid the city of ISIS.

While many citizens have made efforts to rehabilitate their homes and stores, the city of Raqqa still needs infrastructural rehabilitation and humanitarian support for the city to return to normalcy.

Despite these issues, the residents of Raqqa remain steadfast in the face of ISIS’ threats.