We are met with a vast desert as soon as we enter Raqqa territory. When we see the villagers, we involuntarily ask ourselves: “How do they live here?” However, our minds change when we enter the villages and get deep in conversation with the villagers.
People of Raqqa are cultured and hospitable. They are loyal to their lands and each family has hundreds of decares of arable land.
Most of the houses in Raqqa’s villages are made of adobe. There are a few concrete houses but these all have been built recently. Even though Raqqa is surrounded by the desert, the villages are far away from one another. However, villages close to Tabqa and Raqqa get their water from the Euphrates River and they grow wheat, barley, corn and sesame. Their main source of income is husbandry, which is followed by agriculture.
Arab people in and around Raqqa are known as Shawi. The people of this region have historically been called Shawi.
The Raqqa-Aleppo-Hasakah triangle used to be called ‘the triangle of poverty’ during the rule of the Ba’ath regime. Therefore, whenever we ask a mother about her children, we get the response “My son works in Lebanon.” At least one person from each family works outside of Syria in order to make a living.
ISIS gangs had been sharing the earnings of the people here under the name of ‘charity’ over the past three years. Despite this challenging period of three years, the people in this region have supported each other, also thanks to tribal ties.
We are passing through a village. Villagers must have gathered in a house and be drinking bitter sweet tea as they converse. People of Raqqa are famous with their bitter and sweet sugar. Most Syrians say “Make a Shawi tea” in order to refer to bitter sweet tea.
ISIS gangs were upsetting the people of the region over the past three years; life became torturous. After those times, they usually share their pains with us now. With the liberation of their villages by SDF forces, they smile once again and the sadness in their eyes begins to disappear.
Source: Firat News Agency