The Gravediggers of Raqqa
By Vilhelm Stokstad – Death is everywhere in Raqqa. Sometimes it lurks beneath the mountains of bomb-blasted rubble and pancaked buildings. Other times it peeks out from beneath the earth in the form of bones, hair and decomposing flesh the colour and texture of ancient dried parchment. Often it moves around the city, its stench drifting on the humid breeze, creeping into the nostrils and psyche when you least expect it. More than anyone else here, the men of Raqqa’s Civil Defence Unit know where death can be found. For going on six long months now they have sought out its many locations and collected its gruesome detritus along the way.