Raqqa Civil Defense Brigade

21 February 2014

A group of young activists established a “civil defense brigade” in the city of Raqqa, to help people in cases of emergencies and shelling, secure injured civilians and get them to hospitals, perform first aid, as well as help putt out fires. 

The idea was born during a weekly debate held by the Local Council in Raqqa, discussing the issues and needs of the city, which resulted in forming a training session for a civil defense group, since Raqqa has lost many of its cadres since its liberation from regime forces. Numerous young people registered for a comprehensive training in civil defense, and were divided into groups that are put to specialized courses. The groups will also collaborate with neighborhood committees to train more people.


The brigade plans to further develop its work, to become the Directorate of Civil Defense through training workshops in all fields, including setting off early warning sirens, extinguishing fires resulting from bombing, and preparing shelters and cellars for evacuation purposes.

“Ahl al-Kher and other organizations were supportive and enthusiastic about the idea,” one of the activist said in an interview with Syria Untold, “it's still suffering from a severe shortage of funding, but we will continue to work and help people with the resources we have.”

In his talk with Syria Untold, a team member blamed political opposition factions for the lack of support. “Ever since Raqqa was first liberated, we haven't seen any opposition figures, no one visited Raqqa, no one looked into the needs of its people, or the needs of the Local Council. Still, the support of the people of Raqqa, both moral and financial is more for enough for us to grow and have confidence in our work.”

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has tried more than once to hinder the work of the team and close it down, but the problem was solved through the al-Nusra Front and other factions, since “the Council was able to gain the trust of some battalions, who offered to secure protection for the Council without interfering in its work.” The team is currently working on the formation of several groups, who will be able to cover the whole city by dividing it into sectors.

The Civil Defense Team haven't experienced any situation that tests its real ability yet. Nevertheless, they were subjected to fire drills, and they were also taken to bombed buildings to teach them how to pull injured people from under the rubble.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad