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{UAH} Years of Daesh misrule in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa may end soon

Years of Daesh misrule in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa may end soon

The Syrian Democratic Forces announce the start of the battle for Raqqa, signalling the final chapter for Daesh in the city.

Years of Daesh misrule in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa may end soon Preview

Daesh control of Raqqa is facing a decisive challenge, which is already triggering a humanitarian crisis. Residents are spilling out of the city with the prospect of a bloody last stand by the terrorists. Once Raqqa is liberated, residents will struggle to return to a semblance of normality after years of dysfunctional and violent rule.

Local reports indicate that thousands of civilians have fled. About ten thousand people are in a refugee camp just north of Raqqa with numbers increasing every day. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are closing in and have already taken the strategically important Baath Dam on the Euphrates river. It's only a matter of time before SDF soldiers enter what has been the de-facto capital of Daesh in Syria.

This will mark a decisive turning point for Daesh's self-proclaimed "caliphate". With their grip on Mosul shattered, the fall of Raqqa will mark the beginning of the end for the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. They will be reduced to guerilla activity and random attacks.

Raqqa has been a living hell for all its residents under Daesh rule. Women have been stoned in public and children brutalised into becoming executioners. Daesh practices takfir believing it has the right to excommunicate other Muslims and even arbitrarily kill them on spurious religious grounds. This even extended to a seven-year-old, Muaz Hassan, on a charge of 'insulting divinity'.

The Daesh religious police shot the boy in front of hundreds of people including his parents who collapsed. Scholars were adamant that this murder was in complete contravention of Islamic law. But it follows a grim pattern in Raqqa. A girl caught cleaning the steps of the family home with her head uncovered was placed in an iron cage with the bones of people previously executed by Daesh. After several hours, she was led away to hospital severely traumatised.

Ever since they entered Raqqa in 2014, Daesh has used fear to keep the population down. Brave eyewitnesses within the city have smuggled out their accounts of what has really been going on. It's hard to imagine the nightmarish existence of those who must walk past a row of impaled heads on the railings of a public park. Then there are the public crucifixions and other ghoulish spectacles put on by Daesh.

Syrians in Raqqa have found themselves being ordered around by Daesh fighters from countries as diverse as the UK, Belgium, Tunisia and Uzbekistan. The terrorist group has behaved like an occupying force imposing a version of Islam entirely alien to the city's population. All of this is a far cry from the aims of the Syrian uprising against Assad in 2011.

Back then, the people of Raqqa hoped for democracy and freedom. But by 2013, they already had al-Qaeda on their streets followed the next year by Daesh. Since then, the population has been reduced to bystanders listening to terrorist proclamations and ordered to applaud savagery dressed up as justice.

Image: Reuters/Rodi Said


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