Civilians stay in war zones for all sorts of reasons: They may lack the resources to leave, or have no other place to go. They may be unwilling to leave vulnerable family members, may not want to leave their homes, or — most likely — they are not allowed to leave. There are 3,000 to 4,000 fighters in Raqqa, compared to 400,000 civilians. The civilians still there are not leaving, and their presence does not mean they are Islamic State fighters, or even Islamic State sympathizers. Unless they directly participate in the hostilities, they are civilians and entitled to protection.
Read the article in full on Foreign Policy’s site.