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Friday, June 19, 2015

A Rare Glimpse Inside ISIS 'Model City' - Hell on Earth.

A Rare Glimpse Inside ISIS 'Model City' - Hell on Earth. (INN).

It's called Heaven Square, but after the Islamic State (ISIS) group started using the roundabout in Raqqa for gruesome public executions it earned a new name: Hell Square.

In the year since the jihadist group announced its "caliphate" last June, its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa has been transformed into a macabre metropolis.

Human heads are displayed on spikes at the central roundabout and crucified bodies hang for days to terrorize local residents, said Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, a Raqqa resident and anti-ISIS activist.

"From the first moment of its control over Raqqa, ISIS adopted a policy of horror and terror, resorting to executions, beheadings, cutting off hands and legs, and crucifixion," said Raqqawi, who uses a pseudonym.

He belongs to the "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently" underground activist group, which documents ISIS abuses in the northern Syrian city and surrounding province.

Activists were among ISIS's first targets in Raqqa, but Raqqawi and the group's members have continued to work, providing a rare window into life in one of ISIS's bastions.

Raqqa was the first Syrian provincial capital to fall from regime control when rebels seized it in March 2013.

But ISIS soon routed those rebels and moved quickly to establish a "model city" under its harsh interpretation of Islamic law, said researcher and writer Hisham al-Hashimi.

ISIS wants to run Raqqa "like a central government, with police, services, justice and education," he said. Read the full story here.

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