Sunday 25 August 2019

Isil cracks down on civilians as it is pounded from the air

Michael Day and Emma Gatten

Isil was last night preventing civilians from leaving Raqqa and attempting to shut down internet access in the city after three days of fierce airstrikes.

Bloggers continued to post and tweet updates about conditions in the jihadist group's "capital" - even though many citizen journalists have already been tortured and killed.

Anti-Isil activist group Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered (RBSS) reported that the 30 French airstrikes on Sunday and seven more on Monday had destroyed some targets, including a weapons cache and a security command that had still been in use by Isil.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 33 Isil fighters had been killed in three days of strikes, and said Isil members and their families were reported to be fleeing the city for Mosul in neighbouring Iraq.

But yesterday at about 5pm local time, RBSS's Twitter feed, @Raqqa_SL, said that Isil (also known as Isis) was attempting to close down internet services and shut internet cafes.

It said the terrorists were attempting "to take the satellite devices" in order to curb the flow of information from the beleaguered city.

Russia has also intensified its bombardment of the city in recent days, conducting a "mass strike" yesterday, and the US conducted four strikes on Raqqa on Tuesday.

Seven civilians were killed and eight injured in strikes on a fuel truck last night, RBSS reported.

RBSS yesterday described how Isil fighters usually fled at the first signs of an air strike.

"They disappear and leave civilians exposed to death, even after they strike (Isil's) ambulances," one of the members of the group said yesterday.

He added that Syrian and Russian missiles had hit civilian areas, with residents being used by Isil as human shields.

"The strikes have hit Isil," he said, "but not enough." He added: "Nobody is allowed to leave Raqqa anymore."

On Tuesday, RBSS tweeted: "We don't like to see people afraid from the airstrikes and explosions but we support any action (that) will take #Isis out from #Raqqa."

The group added that French airstrikes had allowed women to "smell fresh air without their veils on" because the Isil fighters who would usually scream at them would have "fled like rats" at the first signs of aerial bombardment.

But yesterday one of the bloggers said most of the civilians in Raqqa no longer welcomed the airstrikes.

He said that it had become "impossible to tell who is doing the bombing, and all has become a horror".

Another tweet said: "The world has to know that we're living between the control of Isis on the ground and the bombardment that arrives from above."

Irish Independent

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