Wounded Syrians rest on the front line in eastern Raqa on July 13, 2017, during an offensive to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP / BULENT KILIC
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AIN ISSA, Syria: In four years, Mohammad al-Hassan only heard his son's voice once: when the young Syrian soldier called a radio show to send regards to his family trapped in militant bastion Raqqa.The pair sit in scorching summer sun at a displacement camp in Ain Issa, more than 50 kilometers north of Raqqa city.Raqqa in 2013 was the first provincial capital to fall out of government hands, two years into Syria's conflict.That is when Mohammad lost touch with his two sons, who were fighting elsewhere in the country.After Daesh overran the city in 2014, Mohammad and Nazira could no longer travel to neighboring Hassakeh province, where two of their married daughters were living.Abu Samir, a friend who escaped Raqqa with Mohammad's family, jumps in.In April, as the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces drew closer to Raqqa, Mohammad's family decided to flee their home in the eastern district of Al-Mashlab.
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