Residents from Raqqa in northern Syria have expressed their views on the changing dynamics in the city after the defeat of the so-called Islamic State in October 2017.
While destruction remains a prevalent issue throughout Raqqa, following the four-month battle against ISIS militants, residents have signalled their hope for the future and contentment at the developing conditions in the city.
“The situation and trade are good. Some people work, the city is cleaner, and some stores are open,” said one resident. “I think the coming days will be better but we demand that some organisations help us more”.
“With regards to the market, it has improved and developed,” said a shopkeeper. “All the people are coming back now, and step by step the country will return as it once was, and even better”.
Despite the improvement to living conditions, other areas of the city still have wide scale problems, with residents bemoaning the high prices for goods, as well as the lack of electricity and clean drinking water.
Furthermore, observers indicate that between 100,000 and 150,000 people are yet to return to their homes. For those that have, the prevalence of mines left behind by ISIS militants is causing civilian deaths daily, as well as impeding the speed of reconstruction.
Raqqa was widely considered the capital of ISIS’ caliphate in Syria, and was the first major city that the group overran at the end of 2013. Often considered as the centre of its external operations, Raqqa was known as a place of barbarity, with the infamous Na’im roundabout the site of executions, stoning and beheadings.
With the defeat of ISIS from the city, residents have now begun to breathe a sigh of relief that the dark past is behind them. And while only a small step, the reopening of cafes and restaurants signals that life is slowly returning to the city.