RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – Amid the gray ruins of Syria’s devastated city of Raqqa, some markets have taken down the black clothes of the Islamic State (IS) and reopened their shops with colorful fabrics, traders in Raqqa proudly shared on Thursday.
Ahmad al-Jaradi, the owner of a shop selling women's apparel, told SDF media that IS prohibited the sale of colorful fabrics and mistreated merchants by closing their stores and confiscating their goods.
Al-Jaradi further pointed out that apart from colorful fabrics, many types of perfumes and graphic designs on shirts were forbidden, in addition to any pictures of women on cosmetic products.
Displaced people who returned to the city since it was retaken were able to celebrate the first post-IS Christmas two weeks ago.
Several men in red outfits and fake white beards rang their bells as they marched through the war-ravaged city.
The city was overrun by IS in 2014 and liberated in October 2017 by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) form the leading component.
Three weeks after the liberation, Al-Mishlab, the first neighborhood in eastern Raqqa, received hundreds of civilians.
Most neighborhoods of the city, however, remain closed by the SDF for de-mining.
According to the Raqqa Reconstruction Committee, which is part of the Civilian Council of Raqqa, clearing the city of mines and rubble will take about five months as more than 80% of the former IS capital was destroyed.
The SDF victory put an end to almost four years of IS’ dark and brutal reign over the people of Raqqa, with executions, crucifixions, and punishments for minor infringements were a feature of daily life in the city.
Raqqa is still healing from the scars of IS’ militants rule.
On street corners, buildings are reduced to rubble, while large trash piles in blocked off side streets spew black slime onto the road.
The challenge of rebuilding the city will be immense, beginning with removing the intricate network of booby traps, mines, and unexploded ordnance left in the wake of the battle.
Editing by Nadia Riva