Editor's note: In the year since Islamist factions took over Raqqa, Syria, very little unfiltered news has made it out of the area. In the meantime, ISIS has established its de facto capital in the city. Vanityfair.com received the below text from a Syrian who claims Raqqa as a hometown. To protect this individual's security in an area where speaking candidly about ISIS is dangerous, we're not revealing his or her name.
Artist Molly Crabapple has completed sketches based on the scenes presented in the source's photos. "With the exception of Vice News, ISIS has permitted no foreign journalists to document life under their rule in Raqqa," Crabapple wrote. "Instead, they rely on their own propaganda. To create these images, I drew from cell-phone photos a Syrian sent me of daily life in the city. Like the Internet, art evades censorship."
The below captions are written by the source in Syria, with occasional edits for clarity, who shared some context as well. "In March 2013, Raqqa became the first provincial city to be captured by the Syrian rebels in a four day-long battle," the source wrote to VF.com. "Since then, focus has been shifted on the city, a turning point in the history of rather a quiet, neglected city."
"Soon, the mostly Islamist-oriented, jihadi rebel factions (among them al-Qaeda's wing in Syria—Jabhat Al-Nusra—and ISIS, which had yet-to-be-disowned by al-Qaeda) were the strongest to groups competing for providence," the source continued. "By a year later, ISIS had kicked all other jihadist groups out, imposed its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, and forced people to abide by its rules."