Saturday 20 October 2018 - 07:25

Daesh still present in Raqqah a year after US campaign

Story Code : 756828
A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) looks on near the rubble of a damaged site in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, September 25, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)
A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) looks on near the rubble of a damaged site in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, September 25, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Reports said the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - mostly comprised of Kurdish fighters - were struggling to stem infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells on a daily basis amid criticisms that the SDF lacked the expertise to cope.

“We are exhausted. Every day we don’t know if we will die in a bomb explosion or if we will go home safe and sound,” Abu Younes told AFP.

He said the US-backed forces tasked with securing the city were ill-prepared and there was plenty of room for the terrorists to sneak in. “There are faults that enable Daesh to infiltrate the city easily and carry out attacks,” he said.

“We’re scared because of the presence of Daesh members in the city,” said another resident who identified himself as Ahmad al-Mohammad. “The security forces need to tighten their grip.”

“Every day, we wake up to the sound of an explosion,” said Khaled al-Darwish, another resident. “We’re scared to send our children to school ... there’s no security,” he added.

“If there wasn’t fear about a return of Daesh, there wouldn’t be this increased military presence,” Darwish, a father of two, said of the city's current situation.

The terrorist group had once declared Raqqah as the de facto capital of a caliphate it started to build in Iraq and later in Syria in 2014 through a campaign of violence, invasion and extreme brutality against residents. The United States and its SDF allies claimed victory over Daesh after carrying out a notoriously ruinous campaign in the city last year.

'War destroyed our future'
Najla al-Ahmad, a female local, said, “The war has worn us out. Us and our children. It has destroyed our future."

After the city's so-called liberation by the US-led forces, Syria and Russia strictly criticized the cost-benefit nature of the campaign, which had featured carpet bombings.

Syria said "more than 90%" of the city had been razed to the ground due to "the deliberate and barbaric bombardment," adding that it considered Raqqah to still be occupied unless it was entered by the Syrian Arab Army. "Raqqah has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the Earth by Anglo-American bombardments," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenko also said at the time.

Daesh started attacking Syria in 2014. Washington led scores of its allies in a so-called campaign against the terrorist group later that year without seeking any permission to that effect from Damascus.

The coalition would chronically fail to make any meaningful gains against the outfit, prompting Russia to question the nature and efficiency of its work.

As Daesh was making significant advances despite the unlawful intervention of the coalition, Damascus asked Russia and Iran, another Syria ally, to join it in confronting the group.

The allies announced victory over the terrorist group after recapturing the western city of Bukamal, their last stronghold in Syria, last November.