HI clearing the basement of a house that appeared to be a former bomb factory. | © HI
A resident of Raqqa contacted HI about what appeared to be an abandoned bomb factory in his basement. We cleared the location of multiple explosive devices.
At the end of September, a man living in the north of Raqqa called us to report the presence of suspicious items in the basement of his partly destroyed house that he was trying to rebuild.
We visited the area. We were told that the building in question had been the stronghold of a non-state armed group during the battle for the liberation of Raqqa in 2017.
It was situated in a populated area, near to Raqqa wholesale market – a busy business hub. All the local residents were very anxious about the possible presence of explosive hazards in their neighbourhood.
During the reconnaissance, we determined that the basement had been used for manufacturing and preparing improvised explosive devices, switches, booby traps and victim-operated devices. We decided to put all our other missions on hold and deploy a team to clear this abandoned bomb factory and so protect the civilian population in the area from potential explosive accidents.
The clearance team arrived on the scene and took all the necessary safety measures, including closing the road to traffic and evacuating the residents.
The operation presented some major challenges, such as a single access point and the presence of toxic gases. As a result, the safety measures required made it a slow process.
By the end of the operation, we had safely removed 70 improvised pressure plates, 70 crush wires, 70 batteries, 370 micro switches, 3 electric detonators and 1 grenade detonator.
After searching the rest of the area for explosive hazards, we informed the residents that it was all clear and that they could go about their daily lives without fear.
The community was extremely relieved and appreciative of the rapid action taken by HI’s clearance teams to ensure their safety.
The discovery of this abandoned bomb factory is evidence that there are still many explosive hazards hidden in the basements of partly destroyed buildings in Raqqa, and under the numerous piles of debris. Explosive remnants of war still pose a constant threat to the city’s inhabitants and extensive clearance operations are needed.
HI’s clearance operations in Raqqa Governorate were funded by GFFO until December 2023. HI is operating in collaboration with other Humanitarian Mine Action actors.