To be trapped inside the Syrian city of Raqqa four years since ISIS swarmed in and declared it the “caliphate capital” is to be cut off from every principle designed to protect human existence. Inside, one resident explains, the pariah city is nothing short of a fast-deteriorating, hellish place.
“Here, there is no life. We suffer from everything. There are no services, no hospitals,” one 27-year-old, who can only be referred to as Saleh for safety purposes, told Fox News. “And every day, ISIS is arresting more civilians to push them into joining their group.”
In its early days and dripping with black-market oil money, ISIS mobilized the city by offering a fully operational government and provided all the needed goods and services. But as time has ticked on and coalition bombs rained on the jihadist group’s parade, they have lost fighters, friends and finances.
But mostly, locals are increasingly afraid to step outside their homes and into ISIS’ wrath. The streets are ghostly quiet, except for those pockets in which the displaced have resorted to living in tents sprawled across the streets. Saleh estimates that with the influx of newcomers from other strongholds like Mosul, the city’s population still hovers around its pre-ISIS invasion number of about 200,000. Yet there is no way of knowing exactly how many have died, and no way of knowing who is a member of ISIS and who is not.