RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of families returned to the Syrian city of Raqqa on Thursday after it was liberated by the Kurdish-led forces from the Islamic State (IS) in a five-month battle.
Al-Mishlab, the first neighborhood in eastern Raqqa, has received hundreds of civilians in the past couple of days.
Civilians who spoke to Kurdistan 24 said they were delighted to return home.
“I was always saying that when I arrive in my home, I will bow at the doorstep of the house, kiss it and pray, thanking God,” Fatima, a fifty-year-old woman from Raqqa, said.
Al-Mishlab neighborhood suffered the least from fighting and destruction.
Some returnees said they fear that some IS militants might still be hiding in the other neighborhoods.
They also fear the area may not be completely cleaned from landmines.
“There might be sleeper cells, and I fear some are hiding in tunnels near my house,” a thirty-year-old man told Kurdistan 24.
Al-Mishlab was the first neighborhood liberated by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the offensive launched on June 6.
On October 17, the SDF declared full victory over IS and the liberation of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed IS.
The other neighborhoods of the city are still closed by the SDF for de-mining.
Two weeks ago, the SDF said in an online statement they will leave the city for the Civilian Council of Raqqa to run its affairs after cleaning it from mines.
According to the Raqqa Reconstruction Committee, which is part of the Civilian Council of Raqqa, cleaning the city from mines and removing the rubbles will take about five months and that the destruction rate is more than 80%.
Editing by Sam A.
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Redwan Bezar from Raqqa)