AIN ISA, Syria — Summer has come to Raqqa province. The extreme heat makes outdoor living difficult. Temperatures driven up by sandstorms often exceed 122 F (50 C). There is not much green space — but there are ample minefields.
I came to Ain Isa, about 35 miles north of Raqqa city, to meet with members of the newly established Raqqa Civilian Assembly, but first I stopped at tent cities there where Raqqa's displaced are housed. I spoke with families who had been caught in a violent sandstorm while fleeing Raqqa. Hussein Jassim, from the village of Kubush west of Raqqa, said, “To avoid [the Islamic State (IS)] we escaped to the desert, and slept in the open for four days. We got caught in a sandstorm. Nobody came to help us. Twenty-three people died there.”