Bashar Assad

Devastation in Raqqa raises questions about cost of victory

Kurdish-led forces on Friday declared victory over the Islamic State group in Raqqa, the former "capital" of its self-proclaimed caliphate where militants had terrorized the population for four years — setting up a climactic last stand for the extremists in the last vestiges of territory they control.

But the spectacular devastation of the depopulated city raised questions about the cost of victory against a fanatical opponent and laid bare the difficulties of rebuilding areas where the jihadis put up a ferocious defense, leaving scorched earth and traumatized societies in their wake.

From Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq to Kobani, Manbij and Raqqa in Syria,...

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