little more than a year, on Wednesday, the 16. August 2017, struck a bomb in a residential area of Raqqa, dropped, in all probability, of the U.S. air force. The bomb in the house where the Americans IS-suspected fighters met. A column of smoke rose. Then it was silent.

Where are we here, Mr Abdullah?

here is the ground floor, where we lived, about two floors were. A collapsed man sitting on a plastic chair in what was his living room, a Cabinet on the wall, but the wall does not have a ceiling any more, the man sitting in the open. The staircase leading to the first floor ends in the air. Ahmad Abdullah is 56 years old, he looks older.

Have you changed since the bomb hit?

to smoke, I started. When I left Raqqa in the war, have offered me the first Kurdish soldiers I met, cigarettes. The Kurds have taught me how to smoke! He smiles briefly. Smoking relaxes me.

What brand do you like?

is the Master. From Switzerland, I think. You want one? It is a shame that I have you here as guests and you can offer.

16. August spent Rashidiyeh the Abdullah’s in your house in the quarter. They trusted to themselves for weeks on the road, Raqqa was included, and the last fighters delivered houses battles with the SDF, the Democratic forces in Syria. From the air the American air force bombed with Jets and drones.

The drones had seen a pack of cigarettes on the table, and saw everything. We had heard that the drones killed sometimes civilians on the street, holding the Americans for Daeshis.

Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the IS. Abdullah does not want to “call the group Islamic state”. Daesh sounds more appropriate, he says. Despicable.

I sometimes went out to buy bread. They sent trucks in each district, of which one got bread.


Ahmad Abdullah hangs in the yard of his destroyed house Laundry. He does not want to be identified because he has learned that it is better to left to be visible

©Nicole Tung star

your family house?

no, I had forbidden them.

many families Were still in the district?

Many were already gone. Some get out of Raqqa, others are drawn to the city centre. We wanted to leave our house. We thought it is only a storm. An hour or two fights, then it would be over.

have you Had attacks of fear of the air, or do you have to be familiar to the Americans, that you can give to civilians?

At the beginning, we had no fear. The strikes were precise. Later, they were just everywhere.

And your children?

Which had sometimes frightened. But sometimes not, she had become accustomed to.

Abdullah and the other people in Raqqa are in need of help for building. Please donate to: IBAN DE90 2007 0000 0469 9500 00 BIC DEUTDEHH – keyword “Raqqa”;

The UN estimates that 70 to 80 percent are destroyed by the Raqqa – not by the IS, but of the liberators, especially by air attacks. US President, Donald Trump had relaxed the rules after he took office, the application, it could now be bombed, possible civilian casualties were no longer an obstacle.

today, a year later, there is a smell of decay over Raqqa, many bodies were not recovered. At least a thousand civilians were killed by allied air strikes, they say, and these are only the documented cases. Alone, so the deliverer would have to answer to more than three times as many Deaths as the IS during the months of the bombing.

do you Feel liberated, Mr Abdullah?

I am not saying liberation. I call it destruction. Take a look around you, what has become of our city. Not have known the civilians live? The must have known!

How have you previously about the West thought about America?

I was just hoping that you will come and redeem us.

Abdullah’s family were: his wife, Sumaya, 43. His Son Abud, 18. Two daughters: Heyfa, 16, and Mona, 14. A son, Omran, 12. And two daughters: Henna, 9, and Duha, 7.


Abdullah was only able to rescue a few personal items – including photos of his children

©Nicole Tung star

What did you do in the hours before it happened?

My wife was with the children, they played cards. It was in the afternoon. A very hot day, I know that.

there Was enough water?

water I had to get from the fountain, there was enough, but because of the air attacks on the way to the well each Time was dangerous.

you Had to eat?

There was a little Bulgur in the house, cereal grains, Muskraut.

when they went to the evening out of the house, Mr Abdullah?

at half past eight. I call my wife, I’ll be back soon. That I hasten.

How far it was to the truck with the bread?

Not far, a mile maybe, a ten minute walk. I was just on the way, as it happened. Just walked past the Museum. An air attack, guaranteed.

Abdullah was fond of telling, he retorts, to the Essentials focused. And sometimes he just stops to talk, as he felt that he could lose the version. He doesn’t want to, he wants to have a strong effect. The closer the call the evening of the 16th. August comes, and the word barren is Abdullah. He says a sentence, maybe two sentences, and then he turned to stone.

they feared that the bomb could have hit your house?

no. It’s bombs fell constantly. And in our house, not a fighter.

star-Reportage war in Syria, First the IS, then the bombs came: The Survivors of Raqqa

Abdullah went back with the bread in his district, empty streets, abandoned houses. Just before he reached the last corner, he noticed the dust in the air. It was only when he turned onto his own street, he saw it. The two floors of his house were brought down.

There are a couple of neighbors were. I have a lot of screaming. The name of my wife, my children called, one name after the other. But there was nothing there. Light we could not turn on, it would have been dangerous.

Have you tried in the ruin? To look for your family?

no, it was so dark and dusty, I couldn’t see anything. I stood in front of the rubble and saw nothing. How long were you there? I stand since until midnight. I thought maybe you just pass out and Wake up and hear my Call.

there Was someone with you?

most went soon out of fear of the attacks. Only one of my neighbors stayed until the end. He then took me to his home.

Ahmad Abdullah spent the night sleepless. The next Morning, he went with the neighbor back to his house, see, wait an hour, what else would they do? Of all the name calling. He wanted to dig for them, but it would have been able to kill yourself. So he just stood in front of it. Called her name. Waited. Nothing.

Why did they have to throw so many bombs? They could no longer fight on the ground instead of from the air? Why did so many die? Why did you have to make the whole town is broken?

The question that Abdullah today avoids you is: Was it worth it? He doesn’t want to say no, because that would put into perspective the insanity of the IS. But he can’t say ‘Yes’. He says it like this:

The suffering that came with the war, which was larger than the one before.

in Raqqa, the only major city in Syria, which was dominated in the war successively by all parties. The rebels expelled the Assad Regime from the city, which was in March 2013. Raqqa, the first provincial capital was lost, in the Assad Power. But the rebels have not been held for a long time. In November of the IS swept over her resistance.

It was followed by inhuman years. The fear of the Hisba, a religious police. The fear that the IS could move Abud, Abdullah’s son. The Grey on the Naim-place, where the heads of Decapitated on a metal fence were impaled.

Not noticeable, not crazy, hold on.

After all, Abdullah was hoped at the time, nor the time after that. The IS would not stay forever, since he was sure. The storm would pass by. And then it could be but only better. But as it was so far, and began After that, was in Raqqa a rubble landscape. And Ahmad Abdullah’s family was wiped out.

There was no way back. There was nothing more.


The wardrobe of his wife remained unharmed, Abdullah kept him unchanged

©Nicole Tung star

when did you and your wife are married, Mr Abdullah?

That was in 1998. I was already pretty old, 37, but I didn’t want to get married for a long time, I liked my life, I’ve travelled through the whole country. I was often at sea.

How did you two meet?

Sumaya was also from Raqqa, they came from the same district. She was such a good person. You know, we had a fight in all the years never.

she also traveled with her?

Only in the honeymoon. We have no big Celebration after our wedding and the money to travel. We went to Aleppo and Latakia on the coast. It was the last Time that I saw the sea.


After we had children because we could not travel more afford.

you will have to leave Syria?

no, never.

Have you made something if you had free?

In the summer, we are, in fact, every day, to the Euphrates river side and grilled, sometimes together with the neighbors. A little bit of far young people sat and smoked hookah.

you Had a job?

Yes. I had the first long Shop for children’s books. Later, I got a job at the water authority. That was not bad. £ 30,000 a month to $ 600. My brothers and I tore down the old, easy my father’s house and on the site of the new built.

you have built the house with their own hands?

Yeah, sure.

Abdullah is in the room next door, a growing. The only part of the house, survived the attack. It is the bedroom. In the closet the dresses of Sumaya hanging, colorful fabrics, green, red, blue. So she put on before the IS terrorists forced you and all the other women behind a veil, a black.

comes As Abdullah from the bedroom back into the yard, he has a couple of photos in the Hand. He puts it on the table. His children in the living room in front of the TV, a portrait of his Oldest.

A small portrait photo he keeps in Hand, he wants to show it to hardly, he’s afraid a gust of wind could sweep away or tea could run it, he holds it the entire time, in the right and keeps his left Hand protectively over it.

The photo is him, the most Important thing: she and he, six years ago.

she was so beautiful. And I … I looked so young.


dropped the bomb on Abdullah’s house, died here ten members of his family, among them his six children.

©Nicole Tung star

As we went on to the 16. August, Mr Abdullah?

My neighbor and I moved into a different district, in the centre, we thought it was safer. We found an abandoned house where other refugees lived. Maybe 35.

How long have you stayed there?

Up to 7. October.

What happened on 7. October?

I went out early. There was no electricity, so we went to sleep when it was dark and got up when it was light. I felt like some fresh air. I went down the street two Blocks. In the other direction, it was only two Blocks to the Front. It was the last days.

Abdullah is taking a break.

Then a bomb hit it.


In the house we lived in. A huge Explosion, dust everywhere, I saw nothing more. I just thought, my neighbor who is in there. He was on the first floor and slept. He died in his sleep.

they survived a second Time.

don’t ask me now what it felt like. There may be more suffering?

It was afternoon, when a group found together, a dozen people, among them Abdullah, there were the Survivors of this attack, and a few others that had door waited. They gathered and decided: We go. Now.

We said to ourselves, it is enough, now we have to go. We might die on the way, everything was protect still full of mines, and sharp. But perhaps we die if we stay here.

they made their way through the debris that was on the streets. Two men took a woman in a wheelchair and carried her over the rubble. They walked openly on the street between the fronts.

protect IS keen to have us shoot, but we said to ourselves, it is in order. We are dead anyway. We are already dead.

As the group of erste reached the position of the Kurds, the soldiers in a Pick-up truck and took them to a mosque. Abdullah was Smoking a cigarette. They drank tea. He went to sleep. Four nights remained Abdullah in the mosque, then he took a Minibus to Tabqa, the nearest town, he has relatives there, a couple of months he would come there.

A widower. A Survivor. Syria is full Abdullah with people like Ahmad.

In Washington celebrated Donald Trump at 21. October 2017, the total liberation of Raqqa. “We have made in the last few months, more progress against these evil terrorists than in the previous years before that.” He is fulfilling a campaign promise, said Trump.

Where you live in the Moment, Mr Abdullah?

here and there. Here in the house I don’t like to sleep yet again. Yesterday I stayed at my sister’s. This is not to say, in your direct, your house is also been made. In the case of friends of her.

How many siblings do you have?

I had two brothers and three sisters. Now, I have a brother and two sisters.


One of my brothers lived above us, he died with his wife when the bomb hit in our house. One of my sisters lived with us. Also it is …

when you come back?

it was Only in January, but since so much was on the streets, not rubble, that I never came up to my house. In February, I tried it again, and there it went.

she Got help?

no. I knew that the men of the “Raqqa Civil Defense” were looking for the Buried and the debris wegräumten. But the had a list that was too long for me. I didn’t want to wait months.

And neighbors? Friends?

Everyone is only busy with itself that hurts, because the Help is so much a part of our culture. But no one has money. Everyone sees that he comes through.


So I’ve started. A private company gave me your excavator, in return, I gave them the steel of my house. You have taken first. And then I cleared away with the excavator in the debris.

How long did that take?

The first body I found on the third day.

you Have to recognize who it was?

He successive presses his lips and looks to the ground, he takes a Moment to respond. It was my oldest son. Abud.

And then …

… have to put it to the side and briefly prayed. God be thanked that I have found him. Then I did the same.

Mr Abdullah, whom have you then recovered?

My wife.

His eyes wet, a tear runs down his cheek down. He makes the eyes. Swallows.

When I found Sumaya, under the sun. I took her and my son, and brought them, with the help of a few neighbors, to the cemetery, out on the edge of the city. Because I buried you.

In the days that followed Abdullah found his two older daughters, Heyfa and Mona. Then his son, Omran. Finally, the second youngest daughter, Henna. In the case of a body, he suspected that it Duha, his Youngest. Three he found not His brother, his wife and his sister. He thinks you will lie somewhere in the pile in the vicinity of a debris. Abdullah has long been told, and now he would like to say that his fate is nothing Special, it is very embarrassing for him to talk so long about himself. He is also angry.

It’s not just my house, my family. There are thousands of are perhaps still under the rubble. No one will build this city again, except ourselves. Will the Americans help us?

He snorts, pulling a face. You can see him all the bitterness. He now speaks in rhetorical questions. As a man who seeks answers.

What would you expect from America?

Oh. What would change for an apology? Would you give me my family back?

What is the money for rebuilding your house?

you will not have to pay. And you know why? Because we are not your people. We are not Americans. We are not interested in you.

He was silent for a Moment.

Even the journalists can’t do anything. The world is not interested in us, it is. I don’t sue you for it. It is just so.


in Raqqa, a city of ruins: Only slowly the people return to their homes.

©Nicole Tung star

And if you could say anything and you would listen to you?

God is greater than all, greater than the American President, and not even God will hear us.

Later, after the conversation, leads Abdullah in a neighboring house is still in one piece. He climbs the stairs to the very top. He wants to show how destroyed the whole area is, suggests bombed-out building, window, behind which IS-Shooters had holed up. The IS was everywhere. Maybe not directly in Abdullah’s house, but in those around him.

In those weeks, all wanted a quick victory, a quick relief. The Kurds on the ground and the United States in the air. So many houses were destroyed, the war lasted so long. A house more or less? A bomb more or less? A couple of Deaths in a war with hundreds of thousands dead, if the is is faster to defeat?

The liberator wanted to bring it to an end. You gave so much Eight. That is the crime.

So she and Abud died.





And Duha.

Go often to the cemetery, Mr Abdullah?

Sometimes, Yes. I put them all next to each other, my wife and my children. Only by a little bit of earth separated from each other, so that I know exactly who is where.

Abdullah and the other people in Raqqa are in need of help for building. Please donate to: IBAN DE90 2007 0000 0469 9500 00 BIC DEUTDEHH – keyword “Raqqa”;


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