One man’s story of how ISIS took his hometown

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The Taking of Raqqa

One man’s story of how his hometown fell to ISIS

By Megan Specia

The Taking of Raqqa

One man’s story of how his hometown fell to ISIS

By Megan Specia

This is a firsthand account of how Islamic State militants took over the city of Raqqa in northern Syria, declaring it their capital.

Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi was born and raised in northern Syria, in the city of Raqqa, founded more than 2,000 years ago on the banks of the Euphrates River. The heart of the city was the grassy square known as Naem, meaning "Paradise" in Arabic. And to Raqqawi, it did seem like a small piece of heaven.

In the sweltering heat of summer, couples sat on benches by the bubbling fountain and families stretched out on lawns nearby. There was a bouncy castle for the children to play in. And music streamed from outdoor speakers, mixing with the sound of children’s laughter. Read more…

More about Syria, Isis, Us World, and Islamic State

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