September 26, 2013
By Syria Direct Staff
AMMAN: Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) seized both churches in Raqqa over the last twenty-four hours, according to local media activists.
An image provided by “Thaer Al Ahmed” shows an ISIS fighter raising the black “Banner of the Prophet” above the Armenian Orthodox Martyr’s Church in the city.
“Their forces have spread heavily in the city, they are in and above the church and their machine guns are around it,” said Al Ahmed, using a pseudonym due to fears of retribution from jihadi fighters in the city. “Yesterday, they removed the cross from the Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in the town,” he added, “and today they removed the cross from this church.”
A second activist said, “ISIS targeted this church because it was the launching place for recent protests against the Al Qaeda-linked group.”
A video released Wednesday night pictured townspeople protesting against ISIS, calling “God greets the Free Syrian Army,” and “Raqqa is free, is free, is free, ISIS should get out.”
Last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that rebel groups had executed two Alawite men in front of a large audience in a town square in the city.
The FSA’s inability to govern “liberated” areas is widely believed to have created a power vacuum in northern Syria.