Everywhere in Syria, the ongoing war has been displacing people by the millions, and little to no provision has been made for absorbing the massive number of civilians. That’s also true around Raqqa, where civilians are starting to flow out of the ISIS capital in anticipation of the US-backed invasion.
At least, that’s part of the story. Locals claimed rumors began circulating over the weekend that the Tabqa Dam had collapsed, and that the city would be flooded, which was another thing that had large numbers of people on edge. Those who have fled north into Kurdish-held areas have found little but some makeshift camps.
ISIS has held Raqqa for years now, and it really has been the de facto capital of a nation that spanned territory across Syria and Iraq for that period, a place which attracted a lot of ISIS recruits as the symbol of their movement’s ultra-strict form of Sunni Islam.
As ISIS has increasingly lost territory in Iraq, and has begun losing ground in Syria as well, there is a sense among locals that the invasion of Raqqa is only a matter of time. The US announced their intention of having the city invaded late last year, though surrounding the city has been a slow, grueling process.