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Civilians task themselves with administering IS-free areas of Raqqa

The new Raqqa Civilian Assembly is overseeing areas of the province that have been cleared of the Islamic State and helping thousands of refugees who are risking everything, traveling clandestinely on booby-trapped roads to get out of the city.
An internally displaced Syrian boy who fled Raqqa city, rests on a vehicle loaded with belongings, inside a camp in Ain Issa, Raqqa Governorate, Syria May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTS14UT7

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.”

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