Notes from Raqqa

Notes from Raqqa

RAQQA – Smoke clouds over the neighbourhood, the incredible heat of the sun and the heat of the battle melting together. The battle has already left two months behind and more than half of the city has been liberated by now [by the SDF forces].

As I am writing this article, fierce clashes are taking place all over Raqqa and reports are coming through of SDF advances being made at a constant pace.

Between Quseyî M. Elî and his own home there are only 200 metres. A fierce battle was fought in the eastern part of the neighbourhood Nazlat Shehade. Bullets were shot in salvos. Quseyî, who is fighting against the ISIS gangs for two years now, has fought in the ranks of the SDF in many operations liberating several areas from the gangs.

The story of Quseyî is similar to those of many of the fighters in the SDF. He used to live in Raqqa until two years ago when the ISIS gangs swept over the city, beheading his little brother and abducting another of his brothers, who has not been heard of since.

As I was asking him questions, Quseyî replied shaking constantly with tension. I asked him: “Have you come to avenge your brothers and get your home back?”. He said: “No. Countless people have been beheaded like my little brother by ISIS and the homes of all of us have been seized by them. Yes, I carry a deep-felt hatred towards these barbarians, but I am here for all of the people and homes of Raqqa.”

We have just arrived in the Nazlat Shehade neighbourhood. The people told us that the residents of this neighbourhood were very wealthy and beggars used to come and sit on these streets, contributing eventually to the name of the neighbourhood: Nazlat Shehade means “capital of beggars”.

We arrived in the afternoon. The heat was unbearable, around 45 degrees I guessed. From Quseyî’s position we go on to the next position. As soon as we reached it, we heard gunfire of snipers sounding behind our backs. From below the voice of a SDF fighter could be heard: an ISIS sniper had shot him on the foot. His wound was not severe and he was sent off to the hospital. At that very moment a heavy fight broke out. According to the SDF fighters, the ISIS sniper who had positioned himself near to them was killed.

The neighbourhood is impressively big. Optimal for the ISIS gangs who have lied land mines everywhere. To move around here is a dangerous game. And the battle raged on, soon engulfing the entire neighbourhood.

Cracking voices from the mobile radios, reported of the rescue of around one hundred civilians from the neighbourhood, the death of more than 10 ISIS members and the Coalition Warplanes bombing of ISIS positions.

Smoke engulfed the whole neighbourhood in its grip, the burning heat of the sun and the heat of the battle mingling together.

Tags assigned to this article:
IsisKurdistanRaqqaSDFSyrian warTop

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