Since the beginning of 2014, when ISIS fully controlled the city of Raqqa, eyes all over the world were gazing into this small geographical area which was unrecognized even by some Syrians. Once the terrorist group controlled the city, Raqqa became very famous and well known worldwide due to the violations committed day by day by the terrorist group: burning, slaughtering and terrorizing. Day by day, violation after violation the international media, regime media along with some Anti-Assad Syrian media agencies worked on linking the name of the city with the violations committed by the terrorist group.
What the world wants, through the international propaganda distributed by Iran and its allies in the area, the western far right voices and not to mention PYD and its military arm YPG, is to portrayal the Arab Sunnis, especially in the eastern governorates Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Hasaka, as incubators of terrorism and the main source of ISIS fighters disregarding all the demonstrations the people of Raqqa have done against ISIS violations, for example, the demonstration that took place after ISIS had took over the main church in Raqqa (see link below) among several other demonstrations against the daily violations committed by ISIS fighters.
These protests did not pass smoothly and without any consequences, ISIS started to kidnap and assassinate the activists who had an influence in the protests. From the assassination of the activist Muhannad Habaybna to kidnapping the lawyer Abdullah Alkhalil, the activist Firas Haj Saleh, the activist Ibrahim Ghazi, Abdulilah Hussien, Muhammed Nur Matar and several other activists from Raqqa and other cities. The killing and kidnapping was not limited to activists, but also several fighters from military battalions stood against Assad regime, for example, Abu Tayef the commander of Aumanaa’ Al Raqqa brigade among several other fighters and civilians who had been detained under various pretexts such as apostasy, infidelity, violating Sharia clothing, smoking and several other unfair reasons.
The exact number of detainees detained by ISIS during the period from 2013 till 2017 cannot be tracked, however, there are some estimations provided by activists from Raqqa who are interested in documenting such incidents. One of these activists estimates the total number of detainees – including those who were detained due to violating Sharia laws, peaceful protesters and fighters from Anti-ISIS battalions – to be around 15 thousand detainees between 2014 and 2017, but this number includes those who were released either after attending Sharia Courses or in prisoners’ exchange deals with different parties, thus, the number is not accurate.
On the other hand, the Syrian Network for Human Rights published a report called: ISIS Torture and Detention Centers, The Black Bottom, published in the 22nd of April 2016. The report confirms the existence of lots of known and unknown detention centers in ISIS controlled areas, the report also includes the following:
(SNHR team were not able to record all of ISIL’s detention centers or prisons, especially their secret ones. ISIL had resorted to secret jails after the international coalition commenced its airstrikes on Syria on 23 September 2014. They recorded the arrest of not less than 6318 individuals including 713 children and 647 women since ISIL was established on 9 April 2013 and up till 31 January 2016. They also estimated the enforced disappearance of more than 1188 individuals including 411 children and 87 women since 9 April 2014 and up till March 2016.The report was able to monitor 19 detention centers including some prisons, detailed as follows: Al Raqqa Governorate: 8 detention centers, Deir Al Zour Governorate: 6 detention centers, and Aleppo Governorate with 5 detention centers.)
The numbers mentioned above can only give a simple and incomplete overview of the suffering of thousands of families in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor due to the harsh violations committed by ISIS. The strange thing is that in all the “liberated” areas the issue of detainees was not addressed at all, especially with the notorious prison in Baath Dam. With every “liberation” of a new area, we do not get any no new news about the fate of the kidnapped and detained. The local agents of the International Coalition, SDF, have not addressed the issue of detainees at all in their media conferences. Apparently, the issue of detainees is one of the issues that are being removed from the priorities of the International Coalition and its local ally.
• Al Aan News, a demonstration in Raqqa to emphasize the Syrian unity after ISIS took over the main church in Raqqa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=898budhQ6vA