Sunday, 29 November 2015

Voices from Raqqa: 'We can't hide from your bombs. Tell MPs to say no'

From left, former teacher Mona, who escaped across neighbouring rooftops; a nurse who fled Raqqa when faced with arrest; anti-Isis activist and medical students Feras

  If I went to the UK parliament to make a speech, the first thing I would say is ask them to remove the cause [of our problems], which is Assad, not the symptom which is Isis,” said Abu Ahmad. “Hundreds of thousands of people died in the last few years, and no one came to bomb Damascus.”

 “Why is this just in response to Isis? Why was no one moved when the regime was bombing us in 
Syria? Is it just because [terror] came to western countries? For us, it doesn’t matter which bombs are killing us,” said Mona, a teacher and activist who fled from Isis James Bond-style over the rooftops of her neighbourhood.

“People don’t like Isis at all, but if Kurdish forces come with the coalition to displace them they are both bad, and maybe some will think the least bad is Isis, so you are pushing them to join Isis,” said a nurse who reluctantly left Raqqa this autumn after the group tried to arrest him, although he still doesn’t really know why he came under suspicion. “If they want to help, they have to choose the right partner, not Kurdish forces. Picking the wrong partner might make people react against them. Tal Abyad is a perfect example. They used Kurdish forces as their partner and they displaced a lot of people.”

“It will not benefit us [for the coalition] to fight Isis [alone] because Assad has a good relationship with them,” said Feras, an activist and medical student who was one exam short of his medical degree when government forces jailed him. He later fled Isis, but says that fighting the group in isolation will not end the war: “The Assad regime is the main problem for us.”

“In this situation people won’t even support the Free Syrian Army as they are not credible,” the nurse said. Abu Mohammad agreed: “I like the FSA, but we need a real one; they are not organised and don’t have supplies.” '

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