ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Residents of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa will soon mark their first Eid since their liberation from ISIS rule eight months ago. But many say they are simply too war-weary to celebrate.
Raqqa was seized by ISIS in 2014 as the capital of its self-proclaimed caliphate. In summer 2017, coalition airstrikes pummeled ISIS positions, allowing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to reclaim the city.
Whole districts were leveled. The once thriving bazaar was 70 percent destroyed. As many as 3,000 bodies remain buried under the rubble.
“Those whose houses lie in ruins are indebted. They do not have an income. They carry a lot of problems. How could they welcome Eid?” Raqqa resident Abdulla Mohammed asks.
“The immensity of their problems forces them to forget about all the joys of Eid. Our main concern is that the country is devastated. People want to take a fresh breath and start rebuilding their houses.”
The people of Raqqa spent seven Eid holidays under the rule of ISIS.
“All this destruction has set Raqqa back almost 20 years, even more than that,” said Yahya, another resident.
“There is nothing called Eid for me since ISIS came and even when they left. We were under siege for many Eid holidays. They abducted one of my brothers.”
International donors have pledged to help fund the reconstruction of Raqqa. But many residents say they have received no help whatsoever.
“We have not seen anything from the international organizations. Swear in God, we did not receive even a bag of sugar,” Jasim Salih says.
“I am an IDP coming from Deir ez-Zor. I am an engineer. We have not received even a kilo of sugar.”
ISIS may be gone, but few will be celebrating Eid while their city lies in ruins.