City In Syria 6 Letters
City In Syria 6 Letters – For this week’s issue of the magazine, photographer Yuri Kozyrev and Middle East bureau chief Aryn Baker traveled to Syria to document the return of locals to the city of Homs, which lies in ruins. The return followed a ceasefire between government and rebel forces that had held the city for nearly two years. Amidst the scene of destruction, Kozyrev photographed one resident salvaging things and looking for signs of his former lives. Kozyrev and Baker also traveled to Damascus — long a stronghold of pro-Assad forces — where in parts of the city locals shop and socialize and life goes on as usual.
It took years and several attempts to get Syrian visas for photographer Yuri Kozirjev and me. Despite all that waiting, nothing prepared us for what we would encounter in Syria. From the Lebanese border, we drove straight to the city of Homs, where a ceasefire recently came into effect, after a two-year siege and massive shelling. Rebel fighters have left, and residents are returning to their former settlements to see what can be salvaged from their homes. It was a scene of complete destruction.
City In Syria 6 Letters
Kozyrev, who has covered wars for decades, saw the extent of the destruction. “It’s worse than Grozny,” he said, as we walked through a post-apocalyptic landscape, broken teacups and the ground glass crystal of old chandeliers creaking under our feet. The smell of explosives was everywhere, and fires burned at intersections filling the air with acrid black smoke. Government soldiers, brought in as guards, began to remove electrical wires from all the buildings, and threw the resulting coils into bonfires. They said they didn’t want the remaining insurgents to use the wires in makeshift electrical devices, but also admitted the copper inside fetched a good price.
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We followed the families as they tried to salvage what they could from their former lives. “It was a powerful, emotional moment to follow them to their houses or what was left of their houses,” says Kozyrev. “Many seemed unable to find where they once lived among all the ruins.” Some were lucky and managed to return furniture and old appliances. Others had to make do with a few books or an old photo album. I saw a woman emerge from the rubble holding her chandelier, a poignant symbol of all that was lost.
Damascus, with its lively bars, markets and crowded pastry shops, showed us another side of Syria. A stronghold of President Bashar Assad, the capital’s central districts have seen little of the war beyond television news, and Damascenes go about their daily lives without thinking about what is happening in the rest of the country. “It’s kind of hard to believe when you look at the pictures of Homs, but people in Damascus seem to think the war is over,” Kozyrev says. “For them, it’s just a matter of until they rebuild and everything is fine.” For us temporary visitors, we saw a legacy of war that will likely last for generations to come.
Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for and was named Photographer of the Year 2011 at the international Pictures of the Year competition. This article is about a city in Syria. For the city in Tunisia, see Rougga. For the science fiction short film by Neill Blomkamp, see Rakka (film).
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Coordinates: 35°57′N 39°01′E / 35.95°N 39.01°E / 35.95; 39.01 Coordinates: 35°57′N 39°01′E / 35.95°N 39.01°E / 35.95; 39.01
Raqqa (Arabic: ٱلرَّقَّة, Romanized: ar-Raqqah, also Raqa, Rakka and ar-Raqqah) is a city in Syria on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, about 160 kilometers (99 mi) east of Aleppo. It is located 40 kilometers (25 mi) east of Tabqa Dam, the largest dam in Syria. The Helist, Roman and Byzantine city and diocese of Callinicum (once a Latin, now a Maronite Catholic titular see) was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate between 796 and 809, under the rule of Harun al-Rashid. It was also the capital of the Islamic State from 2014 to 2017. With a population of 531,952 based on the official 2021 population count, Raqqa is the sixth largest city in Syria.
During the Syrian Civil War, the city was captured by the Syrian opposition in 2013, and then by the Islamic State. ISIS declared the city its capital in 2014.
As a result, the city has been hit by airstrikes by the Syrian government, Russia, the United States, and several other countries. Most of the non-Sunni religious buildings in the city were destroyed by ISIS, primarily the Shia Uwais al-Qarni mosque, while the rest were converted into Sunni mosques. On October 17, 2017, after a long battle in which the city suffered massive destruction, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared the liberation of Raqqa from the Islamic State complete.
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The area of Raqqa has been inhabited since ancient times, as evidenced by the mounds (bodies) of Tall Zaydan and Tall al-Bi’a, the latter being identified with the Babylonian city of Tuttul.
The modern city traces its history to the Hellistic period, with the founding of the city of Nikephorion (Ancient Greek: Νικηφόριον, Latinized as Nicephorion or Nicephorium) by the Seleucid king Seleucus I Nikator (reigned 301–281 BC). His successor, Seleucus II. Callinicus (reigned 246 – 225 BC), expanded the city and named it Kallinikos (Καλλίνικος, Latinized as Callinicum).
Isidore of Charax, in the Parthian Stations, writes that it was a Greek city, founded by Alexander the Great.
In Roman times it was part of the Roman province of Osrhoe, but declined by the fourth century. It was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Leo I (reigned 457 – 474) in 466 and named after him Leontopolis (in Greek Λεοντόπολις or “City of Leon”), but the name Kallinikos prevailed.
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The city played an important role in the relations of the Byzantine Empire with Sassanid Persia and the wars between the two empires. The treaty recognized the city as one of the few official cross-border trading posts between the two empires, along with Nisibis and Artaxata.
The city was near the site of a battle in 531 between the Romans and the Sassanids, when the latter attempted to invade Roman territories, surprisingly across the arid regions of Syria, to turn the tide of the Iberian War. The Persians won the battle, but the losses on both sides were heavy. In 542, the city was destroyed by the Persian emperor Khusrau I (reigned 531 – 579), who razed its fortifications and deported the population to Persia, but was subsequently rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (reigned 527 – 565). . In 580, during another war with Persia, the future emperor of Mauritius won a victory over the Persians near the city while retreating from an unsuccessful expedition to capture Ctesiphon.
In the last years before it fell to Muslim rule, Kallinikos was as important as any other urban center in the region, and based on the physical area it covered was only slightly smaller than Damascus.
Since May, it has been known by the Arabic name al-Raqqah, or “the swamp”, after the marshy environment at the time.
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After the surrender of the city, the Christian population made a treaty with Ibn Ghanma quoted by al-Baladhuri. The treaty allowed them freedom of worship in their existing churches, but prohibited the construction of new ones. The city maintained an active Christian community until the Middle Ages (Michael the Syrian records 20 Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite) bishops from the 8th to the 12th century
), and had at least four monasteries, of which the monastery of St. Zacchaeus remains the most prominent.
The town’s Jewish community also survived at least until the 12th century, when the traveler Bjamin of Tudela visited it and visited its synagogue.
Ibn Ghanm’s successor as governor of Raqqa and Jazira, Sa’id ibn Amir ibn Hidhyam, built the first mosque in the city. The building was later enlarged to monumental proportions, measuring about 73 x 108 meters (240 x 354 ft), with a square brick minaret added later, probably in the mid-10th century. The mosque survived until the beginning of the 20th century, it was described by German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld in 1907, but has since disappeared.
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In 656, during the First Fitna, the Battle of Siffin, the decisive clash between Ali and Umayyad Mu’awiya took place about 45 kilometers (28 mi) west of Raqqa. The tombs of several of Ali’s followers (such as Ammar ibn Yasir and Uwais al-Qarani) are located in Raqqa and have become places of pilgrimage.
The city also contained a column with Ali’s autograph, but it was removed in the 12th century and transferred to the Ghawth Mosque in Aleppo.
The Islamic conquest of the region did not disrupt existing trade routes too much, and new Byzantine coins continued to make their way into Raqqa until about 655-8.
The Umayyads invested in agriculture in the region, increasing the amount of irrigated farmland and setting the stage