Raqqa is a city in Syria located on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, about 160 kilometres (99 miles) east of Aleppo. It is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the Tabqa Dam, Syria's largest dam. The Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine city and bishopric Callinicum (formerly a Latin and now a Maronite Catholic titular see) was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate between 796 and 809, under the reign of Harun al-Rashid. With a population of 220,488 based on the 2004 official census, Raqqa was the sixth largest city in Syria.
During the insurgency in Syria, Raqqa was overrun in 2013 by the rebels and then by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL went on to make the city its de facto capital in 2014. As a result, the city was hit by airstrikes from the United States-led coalition of Britain and France. Most non-Sunni religious structures in the city were destroyed by ISIL, most notably the Shi'ite Uwais al-Qarni Mosque, while others have been forcefully converted into mosques. On 17 October 2017, following a lengthy battle that saw massive destruction to the city, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared the liberation of Raqqa from ISIL to be complete.
|Document:Raqqa: A City Laid Waste, The Law Laid Low||Article||2 November 2018||Christopher Black||In June 2017, the US-led coalition - including France and the UK - launched a military operation to force the Islamic State armed group from Raqqa. But instead of only targeting IS, we killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians, while obliterating much of the city.|