05/17/2016, 14.09
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The hell of Raqqa, ruled by Daesh amid a state of emergency and desertions

Roadblocks and tension grow: dozens of members managed to escape from the Tabka prison. They tell of the torture and summary executions of men and women. No sign of imminent attack. The streets around the market covered with tarps to avoid drones. People are forced to pay.


Raqqa (AsiaNews) - The situation is precipitating in Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Daesh’s caliphate. According to received reports from local sources, control measures have been reinforced and there is an air of growing tension visible on the faces of the fighters of the Islamic State, who are increasingly irritable and suspicious.

Four new permanent checkpoints have been set up to strengthen controls in Duwar el Naiim, at the intersection of Via Seif El Dawla on February 23, across from Bustan park and finally in via Mashlab, where electrical power has been restored after a month and a half, however all internet cafes have been closed with a decree issued on the afternoon of May 15.

Some people think that this crackdown hides the possibility that the "Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is present in "his capital" to direct operations against a possible attack on Raqqa. Some Western press (including CNN and the French newspaper Libération) speak of a "state of emergency" declared by Daesh, to defend themselves against a possible attack. But locals cannot confirm any new preparations or troop movements by the Islamic terrorists.

According to locals, the movements and stringent checks are to be attributed to what happened in the detention camp in Tabka (near Raqqa), last week, where about twenty prisoners managed to escape and are still trying to reach safer areas outside of those controlled by Daesh.

Isis assassins raking the streets in search of the fugitives, doubling flying checkpoints and raiding homes. Those who managed to reach a safe place, tell gruesome stories of their detention, also reported by some local independent journalists of "Rakka Tuzbah bi samt" (Rakka is slaughtered in silence).

The torture methods are well known: the so-called "Al Balanko" which involves hanging the tortured from the ceiling with their toes just slightly off the ground; electric shock; the "torture chair" and whippings which are just some of the means used.

Most of the detainees are Syrian nationals, originally from Aleppo, Raqqa and Idlib, but there are also foreigners. The worst torturer is an Iraqi assisted by another whose nationality is unknown. The rulings are issued by a "Koranic judge" and often directly from the prison guards; men are executed in the public square. The state of women captives is the most mysterious: they are executed in their cells, from where the screams are clearly audible. Children are also among the detained and they are subjected to the same torture as adult males.

The enhanced security measures may be related to the escape of prisoners on 3 May, and the hunt for them rather than a "state of emergency" in view of a possible attack. On the other side of the front, under the control of the Kurdish YPG there were no movements to indicate preparations for an imminent attack.

Moreover, since the last week of April, Daesh has covered many areas with cloth tarps, so that movements are hidden from the prying eyes of allied force drones, these areas include the outdoor market area (see photo).

This practice is already in use in Iraq, especially in Ramadi, and has spread to many parts of the city. However, in contrast to Iraq, in Rakka the Daesh "authorities" are forcing inhabitants to participate in covering the cost with a contribution of 2,000 Syrian liras for each house (about $ 8), in a campaign called "We all take part". Of course no one dares to not to. (PB)

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