Russia accuses US-led coalition of ‘barbaric’ bombing of Syria’s Raqqa

A civilian prays after she was rescued by fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces from the stadium after Raqqa was liberated from the Daesh militants in Raqqa. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Russia accuses US-led coalition of ‘barbaric’ bombing of Syria’s Raqqa

MOSCOW: Russia accused the US-led coalition in Syria on Sunday of wiping the city of Raqqa “off the face of the earth” with carpet bombing in the same way the Americans and Britain had bombed Germany’s Dresden in 1945.
The Russian Defense Ministry, which has itself repeatedly been forced to deny accusations from activists and Western politicians of bombing Syrian civilians, said it looked like the West was now rushing to provide financial aid to Raqqa to cover up evidence of its own crimes.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said in a statement that around 200,000 people had lived in Raqqa before the conflict in Syria, but that not more than 45,000 people remained.
US-backed militias in Syria declared victory over Daesh in Raqqa, the group’s capital, last week, raising flags over the last jihadist footholds after a four-month battle.
“Raqqa has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the earth by Anglo-American bombardments,” said Konashenkov.
Most of the German city was destroyed in Allied bombing raids just before the end of World War Two.
Though he said Russia welcomed Western promises of financial aid to rebuild Raqqa, Konashenkov complained that numerous Russian requests for the West to give humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians in other parts of the country had been rejected in previous years.
“What is behind the rush by Western capitals to provide targeted financial help only to Raqqa?” said Konashenkov.
“There’s only one explanation — the desire to cover up evidence of the barbaric bombardments by the US air force and the coalition as fast as possible and to bury the thousands of civilians ‘liberated’ from Islamic State in the ruins.”
The US-led coalition says it is careful to avoid civilian casualties in its bombing runs against Daesh in both Syria and Iraq, and investigates any allegations. It has previously denied killing civilians in air strikes on Raqqa, saying its goal is “zero civilian casualties.”


Dozens of bodies found in Raqqa mass grave

Updated 22 April 2018
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Dozens of bodies found in Raqqa mass grave

  • Raqqa was the de facto “capital” of the Daesh group in northern Syria until the terror group was ousted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017
  • Daesh has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations

QAMISHLI, Syria: Dozens of bodies, including those of jihadists and civilians, have been found in a mass grave in the former Daesh group stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, a local official said on Saturday.
The former de facto “capital” of the group in northern Syria, Raqqa saw the jihadists ousted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017.
Nearly 50 bodies had already been recovered from the mass grave, which could contain up to 200 bodies, Abdallah Al-Eriane, a senior official with Raqqa Civil Council now running the city, said,
The mass grave was located under a football pitch, close to a hospital where the jihadists had dug in before being chased out of the city.
“It was apparently the only place available for burials, which were done in haste. The jihadists were holed up in the hospital,” the official said, adding that some bodies were marked with the nom de guerre of the jihadist while civilians just had first names.
In recent months, both Syria and Iraq have discovered mass graves in areas previously occupied by the jihadists.
Syrian troops uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of more than 30 people killed by Daesh in Raqqa province in February.
It followed two other similar finds by the Syrian army.
The Daesh group, which proclaimed a “caliphate” over swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, has now lost almost all the land it once controlled.
It has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations.