Syrian civilians at an SDF checkpoint at the western entrance to Raqqa plead to enter the city. AFP / Delil souleiman
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RAQQA, Syria: Dozens of civilians at a checkpoint into Raqqa were pleading to be let through to inspect their homes when an explosion ripped through the air: one resident had slipped in.Ambulances and fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces who retook Raqqa this month screeched past the panicked civilians at the checkpoint on the city's western edge.The U.S.-backed SDF took full control of Raqqa on Oct. 17, wrapping up an operation that lasted more than four months to capture a city that had been the inner sanctum of Daesh's now moribund "caliphate".Hundreds of thousands of people fled the city since 2014 and by the time the SDF retook it, Raqqa had become a ruined, ghost town.Despite the heavy human toll that Daesh's booby traps, unexploded roadside bombs and other mines are taking, a group waited on the edge of the western neighborhood of Sabahiya, trying to convince SDF fighters to let them through.
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