Beirut: Internet cafes closed down, travel bans imposed and new checkpoints erected: residents say terrorists are trying to tighten their grip on power in Raqqa as US-backed forces near Daesh’s Syrian bastion.
A Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began an operation to recapture the northern city on November 5.
Since then, residents say Daesh has tried to seal its stronghold off from the outside world, imposing a media blackout on the city’s population of more than 300,000.
The flow of information into and out of Raqqa had already been restricted since January 2014, when Daesh seized the city from rebels who had captured it from regime forces in March 2013.
Since the terrorist group took over the provincial capital, only a handful of outsiders have been able to maintain contact with Raqqa residents.
They include Britain-based monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS).
RBSS formed secretly in April 2014 to show the world what was happening inside the city, and has documented life there despite a terrifying backlash from Daesh, which has murdered its activists in Raqqa and even in Turkey.
Through RBSS, AFP made contact with several people still inside Raqqa, who spoke under pseudonyms and described an atmosphere of growing paranoia among the city’s terrorist rulers.
Moussa, 31, said Daesh was carefully controlling access to news on the US-backed campaign to oust the terrorist group from Raqqa.
“Because of the heavy restrictions imposed by Daesh on the internet and satellite dishes, it’s very difficult to find out what’s happening in the battle for Raqqa,” Moussa said.
"We depend on what we're advised by individuals who do figure out how to take after the news online — however that is extremely hard to do, and exceptionally risky."
It is unsafe to try and talk about the fight, he said.
Daesh just permits "gossipy tidbits that they are progressing and delivering misfortunes on the opposite side, who will neglect to enter Raqqa, as they put it", said Moussa.
Any discourse of Daesh misfortunes could bring about capture and even execution by the fear based oppressors, he said.
Daesh has since a long time ago confined access to the web in region under its control, banning private switches and permitting just a modest bunch of web bistros to work under close observation.
Inhabitants say even allowed bistros are often struck to avoid clients getting to banned substance.
Since the SDF attack started, Daesh has shut a few web bistros in the city and raised new checkpoints, 22-year-old extremist Ahmad said.
"I go online once in a while and surf on specific pages — however, deliberately in light of the confinements Daesh puts on web bistros," he said.
In the mean time, Daesh produces a constant flow of successful publicity, saying "they are killing and exploding the Kurds".
Daesh has forced an outrageous elucidation of Islam on Raqqa, executing the individuals who break the gathering's principles.
The psychological oppressors' accepted Syrian capital has been the scene of a portion of the gathering's most alarming demonstrations of brutality, and in addition a center for outside contenders it has pulled in from around the globe.
Inhabitants have for quite some time been kept from leaving Raqqa without Daesh authorization, however as of late it has ended up incomprehensible, said Abu Mohammad, another lobbyist with RBSS who talked from outside the city.
Abu Mohammad said numerous inhabitants need to escape.
"Be that as it may, if their arrangements are found, they are captured and their cash is seized, and the runners attempting to help them will be executed," he said.
He depicted two families who as of late attempted to escape with their youngsters, panicked of increasing US-drove coalition air strikes and the fear based oppressors' developing neurosis, however were caught soon after clearing out.
The men were detained and the families' cash and character records were reallocated, he said.
Investigators say the battle for Raqqa is probably going to be long and confounded.
The SDF says it will include two stages: the first to attack the city, and the second to enter and recover it.
However, pressures over which strengths will lead the last fight and the danger of regular citizen setbacks are probably going to prevent advance.
Moussa said he was holding up fretfully to be freed of Daesh's "occupation".
"Freedom is the fantasy of all the free individuals of Raqqa," he said.