The Global Coalition against Daesh (also known as Islamic State or ISIS) on 26 June announced the reopening of Al-Rasheed Stadium in Raqqa, northern Syria, after extensive renovations.
The history of the stadium is closely entwined with the rise and fall of the ISIS. Once a place of suffering under the extremist group, it now stands as a symbol of the city’s resilience and determination to rebuild.
Originally established in the 1970s, Al-Rasheed Stadium was a hub for celebrating sports and athletic achievements in the city. However, under the short but brutal ISIS rule, it was transformed into a site of torture and punishment.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took full control of Raqqa on 17 October 2017, following intense battles with ISIS that lasted nearly 100 days. After the liberation, 550 bodies were recovered in a mass grave at the stadium, while an additional 35 bodies were found in the al-Badou neighbourhood.
Although recent renovations have addressed the structural decay suffered by the stadium, it still serves as a solemn reminder of the atrocities endured during that time.
The stadium now stands as a testament to the city’s progress, offering the potential to accommodate Raqqa’s first-ever all girls’ football team.