Raqqa was liberated in in March 2013 by the Free Syrian Army along with some Islamic factions, thus it became the first province to be totally liberated from Assad regime control except for three military points: the head of the 17th division, brigade 93 in Ein Issa and Tabqa airbase. For nine months, the situation of the city remained the same, in the beginning of 2014 ISIS controlled over the city after massive bloody battles. The city is still under ISIS control but the group has lost all the northern countryside of the province to YPG which has reached the city’s northern and western outskirts.
The Golden days, as people of Raqqa used to call the duration from April to November 2013 when their city was just like they -and all Syrians- wanted, it was a liberated city where people can say their opinions freely.
In that era, several independent civil community organizations were established to serve the city and its needs, from cleanliness to removing rubbles and from relief work to civil defense. A provincial council was established, along with councils for all the cities and villages not to mention the local police and courts.
Raqqa was not just a city went out of Assad regime control, it was a successful model for the Syrian revolution, this success was not liked by the International community and decisions makers because the success of this experiment means that it would be copied all over Syria which leads to a definite Assad fall which is not acceptable for all the world.
Raqqa is the third largest province in terms of area and it is the second in wheat and cotton production as well as it has the largest facility in Syria, which is the Euphrates Dam and not to mention the largest land port in the middle east, Tal Abyad gate along with Raqqa’s location which links Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Der ez-Zor and Hasaka, all these facts made the international community refuse to make Raqqa a model for this revolution and decided to turn it into a hotbed of terrorism.
Raqqa stayed in its glory until the war between ISIS from a side and the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic factions in the other side, the tension in Raqqa started at the end of 2013 through kidnaping and assassinations led to the declaration of the battle against ISIS after they had kidnapped Abu Saad Al Hadrami, the head of Al Nusra Front in Raqqa, along with several other kidnapping cases for revolution activists. At the beginning of the battle, the FSA controlled over more than 90 percent of the city and ISIS was besieged in only three buildings, the governmental building, the political security building and national security building. But at that time, ISIS troops coming from Aleppo, Idlib and Deir ez-Zor started reaching Raqqa (Abu Omar Al Shishani was among them). those support troops came along with withdrawals by the Islamic factions which had let the FSA forces alone in that battle and after one week of fighting they withdrew toward Kobani.
When the battle finished, all Raqqa rebels and activists had to flee the city toward Turkey or Aleppo and Idlib countryside because the terrorist group arrested many of them and executed tens. Several questions were asked at that time, how FSA lost the battle? It was not possible that they lose it, ISIS fighters were only couple of tens and the FSA and Islamic factions were thousands, there were no answers until recently when some military commanders said that they had to withdrew from Raqqa under International pressor and if they did not do that all the support would be stopped! These facts cannot be ignored since the had happened and led to the fall of the city under the group’s control and how the group extended in such a miraculous time and then started shrinking easily in front of SDF forces and never loses a street against the Turkish army and FSA unless they fight for the last breath.
Raqqa city has turned from a successful model of the Syrian revolution into the capital of terrorism. Today and after three years, the city will almost be under the Kurdish militias control, which have committed several crimes against humanity: killings and displacements, these militias are being rewarded by creating a new entity that would change the map of Syria and whole region.