Inside ISIS’s Former Capital: The Forgotten People of Raqqa | The Dispatch



Syrians are celebrating
the capture of the last square inch
of ISIS territory. We’re in Raqqa. This used to be the capital
of the Islamic State. Under ISIS rule, these women would have
likely been executed just for dancing with men. Today they’re making a
point by doing it in public. But when the party ends,
they go home to this. Raqqa was liberated almost
a year and a half ago. Still, 80 percent of
the city lies in ruin. Tens of thousands
have returned. But rebuilding is slow. With the Islamic State
wiped off the map, we came back here to see
how people are getting by, and to ask: Can they recover
from such a violent past? Remember, this was
Raqqa under ISIS. Crucifixions, torture and,
by the end, heavy airstrikes. And fierce fighting that killed at least hundreds of civilians. American-backed forces finally
pushed ISIS out in October 2017. But 17 months later, people here are still
counting the dead. Dr. Mahmoud Hassan is part
of the cleanup effort. His job: Sorting
through corpses. Thousands of them. To try and identify who
they might belong to. We watch his team
examine bodies. They’re not taking samples
or running DNA tests. They’re looking for basic
clues: clothes, hair, gender. “So how has the city been
repairing and rebuilding? You keep finding new
bodies, new graves.” That’s the real fear:
that a lack of progress will continue to make
this war-torn city a breeding ground
for radicalization. We visit Najwa and Mohammed,
who lived here under ISIS and still bear the scars. They told us that
their nephew came barging through
their door one day to hide after stealing
a bracelet. Islamic State police
found him anyway. “Has there been any
support offered to you to help with jobs
or help with rebuilding or help with anything
to restart your life?” Najwa and Mohammed are some
of the worst afflicted here, and there are
thousands like them, with few opportunities
and no support. But it’s not like people
are sitting back and waiting for help to arrive. For example, the city’s
bridges are destroyed. So residents made
these homemade rickety ferries to get by. It’s clear that rebuilding
Raqqa will take time. And the determination
of everyday Syrians is moving the city
in that direction, slowly. In the city center, where
ISIS held public beheadings, gardeners are planting trees. A small sign of
hope for the future. But is the world paying
attention, and will people here get the help they need?

42 thoughts on “Inside ISIS’s Former Capital: The Forgotten People of Raqqa | The Dispatch

  • If the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is accepted by the world then it can rebuild. The Syrian Arab Republic has lost the north-east and it is unlikely that these regions will return to Damascus rule, unless the right-wing Ba'ath Party is gone. North-east Syria has a historic opportunity to build a society free from religious intolerance, sectarianism, ethnic nationalism and capitalist exploitation. For that to work, workers need to take control. Democratic councils of all people must be the pillars of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. There must be no acceptance of private ownership over the means of production. Otherwise you will end up with a new ruling class of people who are wealthy due to ownership.

  • We need to take them into the USA and help them ! The failing New York times… Please go outa biz because they take your license / permits away. Stop hurting the beautiful USA 🇺🇸

  • NYT: the people dancing at the beginning are Kurds… if you knew even the slightest about the region, you would recognize that. Moreover, it is likely that the Arabs will act out against the Kurds at some point, since these groups are no less chauvinistic than the people running Israel or the NYT. Finally: nice ponytail, journo-dork.

  • Who created isis, American government itself and now counting the casualities and destruction of their sown seed.shame on u

  • It still amazes me that Iraq military let thousands of ISIS fighters leave Raqqa with their weapons, with no punishment for what they did. Nobody wants those people back, they should stay and be imprisoned to serve the remainder of their lives rebuilding the damage they caused. If stealing a bracelet warrants amputation, what does the damage they inflicted warrant? Modern society seems incapable of controlling medieval crime.

  • The West (America + Europe) bombards the Muslims in their country … and then weeps with the crocodile tears for what they destroyed with their satanic weapons.

  • My god I want to cry imagine the horrors torture beheadings etc they witnessed yet their spirit is strong unbelievable to see the locals planting trees to make the horrors of the past fade.and make the place look better. My questions are where are all the aid Agency’s like Red Cross Christian Aid etc etc is it too dangerous for them to go in yet
    I realise there will be no ngos or institutions yet to help if its unsafe but I feel desperate for these poor people May God or Allah send food clothing and medication ASAP this cannot wait people will die. We are all a Gods children

  • Leftist in America are sad that their intersectional comrades ISIS is defeated. Now who can they blame…ah, yes white males.

  • Blame the USA all you want lefties and Mullahs but in the end you all know ISLAM (PISSLAM) IS PURE EVIL

  • OMG…I and some friends will buy this sweet mother a sewing machine, some fabric and thread. Do these folks even have electricity for a few hours a day?

  • Torture ISIS members men women children elderly in public, on radio, TV, YouTube. I want to see devils cry out in pain.

  • The war is not over yet "Bashir Al Assad will come with his squads and try to crush the rebels who gave up everything to fight ISIS. And the circle will start again "😢😢

  • Isso tudo é realmente uma grande infelicidade. Um dia ainda vou ajudar as pessoas que sofrem assim. Quando for maior e se Deus quiser serei uma ferramenta de ajuda na vida deles. Amém!

  • it was always the plan for a vanguard of the caliphate if you read up it wasnt expected to last as long as it did the main aim was mulitgenerational and thats been done isis 2.0 in the next decade by that time their will be so much problems in europe and america they have their own issues and cant keep fighting other peroples battles 138 nations and organisations paramilitaries took 5 years to take back somewhere the size of the uk . poor people of the middle east

  • New York Times, please do a story about what Syria and it's people was like before the war, helps humanize these beautiful people. 😔💙

  • If any country or gov helps them to rebuild , next time when Isis come they will flee instead of fighting for their homes , let them rebuild them self so they know the value…..

  • the cants= extinction the donts= extinction the cans= evolution the do its= evolution it releases the slaves or else it gets the hose again haha I am creep u sit and earns lookin like saturn

  • US creates conditions for ISIS, does nothing early on, waits for it to fester, now we can spend bombs and money hooray, I need a new boat said the sociopath.. Ok lets' gettem, bogged down losing thousands of troops "Ok ISIS you can leave in the next 24hrs and not die" they flee to Indonesia and Philippines and what do you know.. from raqqa to Marawi.. well done USA you're managing you weapons spend well… this is excellent at slowing down the national debts that are having china out compete you soon.. ugh what a fucn mess made by people with a bunch of testosterone on one shoulder and a bunch of dumb on the other…

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