Skip to main content

Arabic Press Review: Raqqa reduced to rubble

Anonymous Saudi clerics call for MBS to be removed and Syria-Jordan trade begins anew after border crossing reopens
According to al-Hayat, barely any structures in Raqqa remains standing since the international coalition offensive to claim the Syrian city from IS (AP)

Former IS capital razed to the ground

Raqqa, which formerly stood as the de facto capital of the Islamic State in Syria, has been almost completely destroyed with no edifices remaining from prior to the IS takeover of the city in 2013, according to a report published by Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat.

International coalition raids have destroyed all the bridges leading to Raqqa in an attempt to trap IS forces inside the city when the US-led offensive forced the militant group out of the city in October 2017.

"There are 60 bridges that need reconstruction. The international coalition provided eight mineral bridges on the main roads," Ahmad Al-Khidr, Deputy Chairman of the Local Council and Municipalities in the Civil Council of Raqqa, said.

Amnesty International has estimated that 80 percent of Raqqa has been destroyed, including schools, hospitals, and private homes. The organisation also believes that "30,000 houses have been completely demolished while 25,000 have been almost destroyed".

The National Hospital of Raqqa, the most important hospital in the city, is still awaiting rehabilitation. Its rooms and corridors are filled with damaged radiology devices, beds and chairs, as well as medicines and prosthetics thrown everywhere, according to the report.

Anonymous clerics call for MBS removal

A group of anonymous senior Muslim scholars from Saudi Arabia have called for the removal of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the wake of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his suspected death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to news website Arabi21.

The council held bin Salman, also known as MBS, responsible for Khashoggi’s killing, describing this as "injustice and stupidity".

The council went on to blame MBS for the “serious predicament” in which the Gulf kingdom finds itself more generally, blaming it on "injustice and wrong policies, which Mohammed bin Salman should assume responsibility for".

The statement called for MBS to be replaced, as well as for the immediate release of a number of unnamed detainees.

Syrian products back on Jordanian markets

Only two days after Syria reopened its Nassib goods border crossing with Jordan for the first time in three years, Syrian products and commodities have returned to Jordanian markets, while demand for the Syrian pound has also increased in Jordan, according to a report published by Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad.

One truck driver confirmed that he was able to load and transfer around a ton of Syrian fruit in his car from the Syrian territory, according to the newspaper.

The head of the Chamber of Commerce in al-Ramtha, the closest Jordanian city to Syria, Abdessalam al-Thiabat said that the quantities of vegetables and fruits transferred to Jordan were limited, as was movement for travelers from Jordan to Syria and vice versa.

A movement of transit trucks with large commercial quantities of products is expected to occur in the next few days to sell huge amounts of Syrian products in the Jordanian markets, according to al-Ghad.

Meanwhile, exchange bureaus in the city of Ramtha have seen a large turnout by travelers heading to Syria seeking to obtain Syrian pounds, according to al-Thiabat, who pointed out that more than 150m Syrian pounds ($290,000) have been exchanged in Ramtha in the span of three days.

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.