SYRIA

'Food porn' for IS fighters, soup kitchens for the rest

Since the coalition strikes started, prices have skyrocketed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, and inhabitants are struggling to make ends meet. The local soup kitchen is having trouble feeding all the needy residents. Meanwhile, the jihadists who control the city post photos of their feasts on social media.

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A soup kitchen in Raqqa. Screen grab from a video shared by Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi.

Since the coalition strikes started, prices have skyrocketed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, and inhabitants are struggling to make ends meet. The local soup kitchen is having trouble feeding all the needy residents. Meanwhile, the jihadists who control the city post photos of their feasts on social media.

This video of Raqqa's soup kitchen is from November 1, posted by a member of the activist group “Raqqa is being massacred in silence.” On the menu that day: rice. “These containers of food will be distributed in Al-Samra [a village close to Raqqa],” he said. At 0'44”, a sheep is led into the kitchen; the animal is a donation from a local benefactor.

The rice is cooked in a giant pot. At 1'10”, men and women line up separately in front of the counter. “There are more coming every day,” said the activist. “We rely on help from charitable souls.”

This video was sent to us by Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, one of the activists with the group “Raqqa is massacred in silence.” He fled to Turkey three weeks ago, but is in constant contact with the activists who have stayed there.

“IS has a lot of money to spend, but they don't contribute to the soup kitchen”

The price of fuel in Raqqa has skyrocketed since coalition forces have hit IS refineries. Food prices have doubled or even tripled. A basket of bread costing 150 Syrian pounds before the strikes now sells for 250 pounds. A gas canister has gone from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds.

In addition, shopkeepers are forced to pay a monthly tax to IS of 1,500 pounds, which has a ripple effect on customers.

Many people have been forced out of work, such as primary teachers after the closure of schools, or lawyers, whose work is considered heretical.

In this video, children fight over flatbreads in front of the soup kitchen. Posted by Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi on November 2.

The number of people coming to the soup kitchen increases daily. The kitchen was originally opened in 2011 to help refugee families in Raqqa who had fled the fighting between the regular army and the Free Syrian Army. It is financed entirely by benefactors, both local and living abroad. It is open every day except for Fridays, or when there is not enough food to serve. The people who work there often make very simple meals: rice, soup, pasta, etc.

IS has a lot of money to spend, thanks to petrol sales and taxes on shopkeepers. However, it does not contribute to the soup kitchen.

Jihadists are well paid and live lavishly, with no regard for the misery of local people. They eat in great restaurants and buy luxury products, and they do not hesitate to boast.

For example, Abu Abbas Allubnani, a jihadist in Raqqa, posts photographs of his copious meals on Twitter.

Clearly, the residents of Raqqa have had enough of watching the jihadists show off while they find it difficult to even fill their plates. But silenced by their fear, they do not dare to complain.”