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The Syrian city ar-Raqqah, on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, is about 160 km (99 mi) east of Aleppo. It has been inhabited for millennia; the Tall al-Bi'a has been identified as the Babylonian city Tuttul. The modern city was founded as Nikephorion by Seleucus I Nicator in the 3rd century BCE, but his successor Seleucus II Kallinicus renamed it Kallinikos. As Callinicum, it was part of the province of Osrhoene but had declined by the 4th century. In 388 the city's bishop led a mob that destroyed the synagogue; emperor Flavius Theodosius Augustus orger the bishop to rebuild it but rescinded the order after Sant'Ambrogio (bishop Ambrose of Milano) intervened on the bishop's behalf. Byzantine emperor Flavius Valerius Leo Augustus (Leo I) rebuilt the city in 466 and renamed it Leontopolis, though it continued to be known as Kallinikos. With Nisibis and Artaxata, it was one of the three official cross-border trading posts between the Byzantine and Sassanid empires, and in the 6th century became a center of Assyrian monasticism with the founding of Dayra d'Mār Zakkā, the Saint Zacchaeus Monastery. In 542 it was destroyed by Khosrow I (Anushiruwān), who razed its fortifications and deported its population to Persia; Flávios Pétros Sabbátios Ioustinianós (Justinian I) rebuilt it. In 580 future emperor Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus defeated the Persians nearby as he retreated from a failed expedition to capture Ctesiphon. In 639 or 640 ʿIyāḍ ibn Ghanm ibn Zuhayr al-Fihrī took the city as part of his conquest of upper Mesopatamia and allowed the city's Christian population to worship in their existing churches but forbade the construction of new ones. His successor built the city's first mosque, which survived until the early 20th century. In 656 the decisive clash between ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muʿāwiyah ibn ʾAbī Ṣufyān took place at Siffin, ca. 45 kilometres (28 mi) west of Raqqa, and the tombs of several of Ali's followers are located in the city. Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur built al-Rāfiqah, a garrison city about 200 m west of Raqqa, and the two merged into a city larger than Damascus. In 796 Harun al-Rashid moved his capital there, though the administrative center remained in Baghdad. Though the capital returned to Baghdad in 809, ar-Raqqah remained the capital of the western part of the Abassid empire, including Egypt. Dayra d'Mār Zakkā became the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. However, the city declined again in the late 9th century and was ruled by the Bedouin from the end of the 10th century until the beginning of the 12th, only to rise again, to be destroyed by the Mongols in the 1260s. From 1864 it was revived, first as a military outpost, then as a settlement for former Bedouin Arabs and for Chechen refugees from the wars against Russia. In March 2013, during the Syrian Civil War, jihadist militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front and other groups (including the Free Syrian Army) took the city from president Bashar Hafez al-Assad, but another former al-Qaeda affiliate, Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, took complete control of the city in January 2014. In June it proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah ("Daesh," the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). On 15 November 2015, France, in response to attacks in Paris two days earlier, dropped about 20 bombs on multiple targets in Raqqa, and it been hit by airstrikes from the Syrian government, Russia, the US, and several other countries
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