Residents of Raqqa now more terrified of airstrikes than ISIS

Financial Times reports: “This is what daily life is like. You wake up in the morning and if you don’t hear the sound of shelling, or a jet breaking the sound barrier, you feel like it could be a good day,” says Abu Hadi. “The first thing I do next is look outside for clouds and pray for them to come — or better yet a storm.”

Sorties are always fewer in number during bad weather, he says. On Monday it rained — a good day.

Abu Hadi lives 2km from the centre of Raqqa, Isis’s de facto capital in Syria. The city has become the focal point of an intensified air campaign by the US-led international coalition since the Isis attacks on Paris. France has led with stepped up air strikes and has been joined by the UK. But Raqqa is also home to hundreds of thousands of civilians who are prevented from leaving by the jihadis. One of the only ways to leave the city is to prove a health condition requiring treatment that Isis hospitals cannot provide.

Abu Hadi speaks to the Financial Times on an internet connection he had secretly rigged and uses only at dead of night. Like all those interviewed for this report, he asks for his real name not to be used.

The 50-year-old used to worry more about Isis brutality — he speaks of militants on motorcycles dragging mangled corpses behind them as he was walking his son to school. Now, terror for him is waking to the sound of warplanes. “If someone looks upwards without an obvious reason, everyone around will be terrified . . . When there is quiet, you spend all your time thinking, OK now a plane is coming.” [Continue reading…]

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