In his famous novel, The Bridge On The Drina, the former Yugoslav writer ivo Andrić offers a unique model for novels. The writer made the bridge of Visegrad as the main character in the novel, Andrić says about the bridge:” And so the number of houses and people has increased on both sides of the bridge, the city has lived thanks to the bridge”.
It is not surprising to find a city where its people are very related to its bridges, why not and they are the only way for them to reach other places. In the forties of the last century, Raqqa was isolated from its suburbs, people could not cross from Aljazeera, where the city is located, to Alshamiea where other Syrian provinces exist. The only way was through rafts and small ships.
Raqqa has two bridges, the first and the oldest is called the Old Bridge or Al Mansur Bridge, resources say that it was built in 1942 by the Britain government when the Britain troops were heading toward Iraq to fight the Vichy troops there. The Bridge is 630 meters long and there is a sign says that the name of the bridge is (Gate), it was designed in three days and took them four months and two days to finish building it. This bridge was targeted by the regime artillery in March 2014.
The second bridge is called the New Bridge, it was built in the sixties of the last century to accommodate the increasing traffic and to support the old one.
These two bridges have been targeted several times in the last few years either by the Assad regime or by the Russian warplanes, the International Coalition has also targeted the city’s infrastructure also. Under the pretext of fighting the terrorist group ISIS, the city has been suffering from warplanes raids as if the hell of living under ISIS control is not enough for its poor civilians.
The last raids that targeted the bridges, International Coalition warplanes destroyed five bridge in Raqqa province last Saturday, has shocked the people of Raqqa. For the civilians, these bridges were not rocks only, every time they wanted to visit any other Syrian cities they had to leave their small city through these bridges. They were a lot more than just bridges, only one photo coming now from there is enough to trigger all the nostalgic feelings.
Back to the bridges, the emotional relationship between the people of Raqqa is not different from the relationship between the people of Deir ez Zor and their bridge, which was destroyed by Assad regime. A lot of memories are related to these two bridges, the nights of the Summer and the love moments. These two bridges have a history of love, pain and memories.
Raqqa today is like a bereaved mother crying its children who are dispersed all over the world, it is crying over the nights of Summer and the moments of joy. It is crying because it has turned from a small peaceful city to the capital of terror. Raqqa and its people are now crying over their bridges.