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Debris and dust: Raqqa ‘sacrificed’ to defeat Islamic State

Smoke rises at the positions of the Islamic State militants after an air strike by the coalition forces near the stadium in Raqqa, Syria, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

RAQQA, Syria (Reuters) – The ancient mud brick walls circling Raqqa’s deserted old city are almost the only structure still intact. Inside, shops and homes spill crumbling concrete onto either side of the narrow roads, block after block.

Fighting between U.S.-backed militias and Islamic State in the jihadist group’s former Syria stronghold has peppered mosques and minarets with machine-gun fire while air strikes flattened houses. No building is untouched.

“The old clock tower could be heard from outside the walls once. It’s damaged now. It’s silent,” Mohammed Hawi, an Arab fighter from Raqqa, said at a nearby home occupied by the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance (SDF).

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