War and soft infrastructure in Raqqa: A visual sociological and historical approach. (English)
Since 2011, Syrian regime forces have used military and psychological tactics to regain control of ‘rebel’ cities, often targeting civil and public places. After first attacking such cities arbitrarily with improvised unguided barrel bombs, regime forces began to bombard ‘spaces’ of specific importance for daily social life. While the bombarding of soft infrastructure could be considered a war crime, the Syrian regime also practices psychological warfare against its opponents and rebel cities to spread fear and terrify the population. They not only kill people, they kill hope, life and faith. They transform knowledge into ignorance, life into death, and faith into fear. But they have been only one of a succession of actors to have attacked, destroyed and adversely transformed Raqqa’s public spaces over the course of the conflict. This study focuses on two typical public places in Raqqa, schools and places of worship, which were systematically attacked by Syrian regime forces and their international allies, the Islamic State group (ISIS), and then the International Coalition in its aim to defeat ISIS and assist the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are the city’s current authorities.