Two hundred corpses, including those of people believed to have been executed by the Islamic State group, were found near the Syrian city of Raqa, a local official and a war monitor says.
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As dust whips up around them, families from Syria’s Raqa ready their tents for the coming winter at a camp for internally displaced people in Ein Issa, still homeless a year after the Islamic State group was expelled from their city.
When the Islamic State group lost its Syrian bastion Raqa last year, family members of missing people hoped to finally uncover what happened to their relatives, who vanished years ago in the jihadists’ prisons. But with many IS jails destroyed in fighting and no centralised body investigating the issue, Syrians have spent a year desperately searching with no answers.
Shattered ultra-sound machines and prosthetic limbs litter the hallways of Raqa’s main hospital, still gutted a year after the Islamic State group made its infamous last stand in its Syrian heartland. The bullet-riddled complex looms large among the sea of destroyed buildings in the northern city, once the de facto Syrian capital of IS’s ill-fated “caliphate”.
In the northern Syrian city of Raqa, former bastion of the jihadist Islamic State group, a stadium that had been used as a prison by the IS group is restored to its former purpose, hosting a football game between home team al-Rachid and the Al-Sad team from the nearby town of Tabqa.
Mohammed Kuraji returned to Syria’s Raqa to prepare a homecoming but ended up organising a funeral. Stepping into his home, an unexploded mine detonated and killed his elderly father.
Raqa is still mostly a sinister ghost town of gutted buildings and rubble-strewn streets but there is one place teeming with activity in the Syrian city: Ammar Qassab’s falafel shop.
Christians of Armenian descent in Syria celebrate a Christmas Mass in a completely destroyed church in Raqa, the former “capital” of the IS group in Syria. The jihadists were expelled in October after months of fighting.
Two mass graves containing dozens of bodies of civilians and Syrian troops killed by Islamic State jihadists have been found in the west of Raqa province, state news agency SANA reported Friday.
Syrians dressed as Santa Claus parade through the ruins of Islamic State group’s former bastion Raqa, leading a crowd to a Christmas mass in a church destroyed by fighting. “We are saying, ‘no to war, yes to life,'” says Farhad Khalil, one of a group of artists who have gathered with their easels to bring some colour back to the dilapidated city.