Raqqa is a cruel prison, its people are slowly starving to death and more foreign bombs will only compound their misery, according to former residents who have fled to escape the Islamic State group.
In an interview with Middle East Eye on Monday, Abdullah K, who recently escaped to Europe, said that the city had fallen into the abyss, with its people facing the wrath of IS and foreign bombs.
His comments come as UK politicians prepare to vote on whether to extend the country’s military action against IS into Syria. Raqqa, the group’s de facto headquarters, will be a prime target.
The city is already under attack from the US, Russia and most recently France, which stepped up its campaign in the aftermath of IS attacks this month in Paris.
Speaking to Middle East Eye from the Greek-Macedonian border, Abdullah said Raqqa’s population was on the brink of starvation.
"Today, Raqqa is a dark nightmare. IS strives in every way to starve the civilian population, and it is succeeding. There is barely any electricity. Water has not been sanitised since IS took over.
"The city’s centre resembles a ghost town. Only the houses that have been forcibly taken over by members of IS receive services.
“The cost of a bag of bread has reached unbelievable prices,” Abdullah said. “Despite IS threatening to cut off the hand of whoever is caught, theft has become widespread and occurs in broad daylight precisely because of the starvation.”
He said more bombing would only compound the misery.