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Raqqa: Searching for the dead

By Hunar Ahmed 21/7/2018
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Raqqa was once the de facto capital of the so-called ISIS ‘caliphate’. Today, after the ferocious battle for its liberation, 80 percent of the city lies in ruins and two-thirds of its people remain displaced.

In this film, Rudaw explores the devastated streets of this once thriving city to meet the survivors of the savage street-to-street fighting and coalition airstrikes, the cleanup teams salvaging what remains, and the grieving families hoping to identify their loved ones.

An estimated 3,000 bodies remain trapped under tons of rubble. With municipal teams woefully understaffed, local residents have joined the search for corpses. Rudaw met one nine-year-old boy making $2 per day aiding this grisly search. 

Nine mass graves have been discovered in the city containing up to 1,500 bodies. The painstaking process of identifying those buried here is made harder by the lack of specialist equipment and shortages of staff.

The task of clearing the city is also complicated by the estimated 7,000 explosives left behind my ISIS when its fighters fled. These booby-traps and remnants of war have claimed more lives since the liberation of the city in October 2017 than those killed in the fight itself. Until they are cleared, and proper services are resumed, families cannot safely return. 

Although millions of dollars have been pledged by the international community for reconstruction, the city will not be cleared for several years to come. 


Azad | 21/7/2018
PKK are responsible for these deaths. Trump wanted to win quickly so he could stand on TV and make himself look good, while PKK willingly rushed and did the dirty job for him. Not only did PKK call in thousands of airstrikes but they themselves carpet-bombed and shelled Raqqa indiscriminately. Tens of thousands of civilians died and this is a fact. They were killed by PKK who rushed to please their U.S. masters. Imagine if if it was you in Raqqa or your family member. Toddlers buried alive by PKK with teddybears still in their arms- the only comfort they had. But PKK didn't care as long as it was arab babies dying. What PKK did was disgusting. Instead of showing humanity to people in need something kurds are famous for, they showed the same savagery that we know so well from arabs. No other kurdish force have EVER killed as many innocent civilians as PKK have. PKK is the first kurdish party in history to kill tens of thousands of civilians. None of what I just said is oppinion. These are all hard facts.
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