Raqqa, the Syrian city that served as the “capital” of the Islamic State, was liberated this week by a US-backed coalition of militia groups. While initial wire photos from the ground depict the scene as jubilant, with soldiers waving flags atop tanks riding through the city, the city itself has been decimated by months of airstrikes and street battles.
A victory in Raqqa has come at a heavy cost. Much of the city has been devastated by American-led airstrikes that killed more than 1,000 civilians, according to tallies by local activists and international monitors. In earlier years, many were killed by Russian and Syrian government strikes. About 270,000 residents have been displaced by the fighting, and thousands of homes have been destroyed.
Photos from Reuters offer a street-level view of the battered city. On nearly every corner, there are buildings either hollowed out or leveled to the ground.