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Fri Apr 20, 2018, 07:54 AM

How American neglect imperils the victory over ISIS

The survivors are angry at the US --per this story.


How American neglect imperils the victory over ISIS

Six months after the militants' capital was liberated, new risks are emerging from Raqqa’s rubble.
Story by Tamer El-Ghobashy

Photos by Alice Martins
April 19, 2018

RAQQA, Syria — Every three or four days, Fatima Mahmoud hitchhikes 37 miles across a hilly expanse of northeastern Syria to her home town of Raqqa. She comes to visit her husband’s final resting place, beneath a large mound of concrete that once was their home.

She knows he is still there because of the unmistakable odor of his corpse.

Mahmoud digs through the rubble with her hands, seeking artifacts of her life with him and anything of value she can sell to pay for food and her temporary shelter elsewhere in the province.

“My city has been liberated, but I can’t live in it,” she said, her face collapsing into sobs.

Six months after U.S.-allied forces backed by American airstrikes evicted the Islamic State from its self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa is a city sown with rubble, explosives and an uneasy mixture of despair and determination to rebuild.

It is easier to count the buildings that are still standing than the ones that have been reduced to shattered concrete and twisted reinforced steel. Once home to about 400,000 people, many in high-rise apartments, Raqqa has become nearly unrecognizable to those who try to return and navigate its streets. Public squares are hidden underneath debris, and the tallest residential towers are mere rubble.

The city has no running water or electricity, and there aren’t enough public employees to defuse the hundreds of explosives planted by the militants
as they desperately clung to the city. People often encounter human remains as they take stock of what’s left of homes and businesses.

The destruction of Raqqa and its slow recovery are contributing to a growing sentiment here that the United States wrecked the city but is unwilling to take responsibility for putting it back together.

More than 11,000 buildings in Raqqa were destroyed, severely damaged or moderately damaged between February and October 2017, during months of U.S.-led airstrikes.................................

Raqqa’s civil defense unit, a team of 37 firefighters and other first responders, has recovered more than 300 bodies since the end of the campaign, the vast majority of which they believe to be noncombatants. There are currently 6,000 open reports of human remains in rubble.

“People want to settle back into their neighborhoods and begin to rebuild,” said Yasser al-Khamis, the civil defense chief. “But everywhere we go, people are reporting more and more bodies.”

A young boy watches as members of Raqqa’s civil defense force place a decomposed body in a bag. Raqqa civil defense workers carry a body bag. Civil defense workers in Raqqa unload bodies from a truck at their headquarters on March 8. On that day, they retrieved 11 bodies from the rubble, eight of them unidentified.

Not the help they needed

On a recent afternoon at their bullet-pocked headquarters, Khamis and his team were visited by bushy-bearded U.S. Special Forces soldiers. About 10 of them spilled out of several armored Toyota Land Cruisers wearing tactical vests with rifles slung over their shoulders. They had come to deliver good news: They would be providing two brand-new ambulances in a couple of days.

Khamis’s men were unimpressed. They told the Americans they didn’t need ambulances; they needed firetrucks, heavy construction equipment to move rubble, and power tools to pry bodies out of the contorted wreckage.

A Special Forces soldier with a “Make Army Baseball Great Again” cap said he understood the challenges, but added that they had only six ambulances to distribute across a large swath of Syria that the United States is essentially administering, reaching from Raqqa in the north to Deir al-Zour in the south..................................

A camp for internally displaced civilians in the countryside near Raqqa. The section in the foreground houses foreign wives of Islamic State militants; the main camp is in the background. Many people remain in the camp while making day trips to Raqqa to begin rebuilding their homes.

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Reply How American neglect imperils the victory over ISIS (Original post)
riversedge Apr 2018 OP
Igel Apr 2018 #1

Response to riversedge (Original post)

Sat Apr 21, 2018, 07:22 AM

1. Turkey didn't help. n/t

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