Members of the Raqqa Civil Defense listen to a morning briefing, and praying before burying the remains of six unidentified civilians they retrieved, including two young children, from a destroyed building. Raqqa, Syria. May 2018.
The Raqqa Civil Defense, has 38 employees including firefighters, an emergency medical response unit, and body recovery/exhumation workers, as well as a forensic doctor. They restarted their work in January 2018 following the city's liberation, and have been in part supported by the USAID program called START. The team does not have heavy machinery to move most rubble to retrieve bodies, and they are in a race against time to recover as many as possible before a potential disease breaks out. The head of the civil defense, Yasser El Khamis, estimates that thousands remain under the rubble in the city. •
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