“That really was surreal…being in a house where so many notorious things happened.” Reporter, Matt Brown
For four long years Islamic State ruled its “caliphate” from its capital, the city of Raqqa. IS propaganda painted it as a pure paradise and extremists travelled from around the globe to join the terror group. From the outside, there were only glimpses of what life was really like.
Now the city is giving up its secrets.
“Driving into Raqqa, there’s an eerie calm and breathtaking destruction as far as the eye can see.” Reporter, Matt Brown
On Four Corners Middle East correspondent Matt Brown goes on an intense journey into the city freed from Islamic State dictatorship.
“Every day there’s explosions. You can hear from civilians going home, trying to reclaim their house, trying to pick up the pieces of what’s left of their house.” Anti-IS fighter
Everywhere there are reminders of the regime’s brutality.
“They had large plasma TVs so that children would watch punishments, death and executions. That was mandatory.” Raqqa resident
Emerging from the rubble, the survivors talk about the risks they took to defy Islamic State.
“Education under IS rule was forbidden…I secretly sent my younger children to a private teacher. We were afraid of course, very afraid. I just wanted them to learn how to read and write.” Father
In the ruins lies evidence of the desperate attempts IS fighters took to disguise themselves as the city fell.
“That’s IS beard hair. When they lost…they shaved their beards so no one would recognise them.” Anti-IS fighter
In this city of ghosts, reporter Matt Brown goes in search of the foreign fighters who streamed into the area and makes a gripping discovery.
“Using the co-ordinates, I track our path as we close in.” reporter, Matt Brown
City of Ghosts, reported by Matt Brown and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 19th February at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 20th February at 1.00pm and Wednesday 22nd at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEDT, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.