Middle East

Russia likens US coalition bombing of Raqqa to WWII Dresden

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walk down a street in Raqqa past destroyed vehicles and heavily damaged buildings on October 20, 2017. AFP / BULENT KILIC

MOSCOW: Russia Sunday accused the U.S.-led coalition in Syria of having flattened Raqqa with a Dresden-like bombing campaign and masking the destruction with a rush of humanitarian aid.

In a statement, the defense ministry said that Raqqa - the capital of Daesh's (ISIS) self-proclaimed caliphate - "inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, razed to the ground by Anglo-American bombings."

U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces last week recaptured Raqqa, Daesh's last major stronghold in Syria.

U.S. officials hailed the event, led by President Donald Trump who said "the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight."

"The bravura statements by official representatives of the U.S. administration about the 'outstanding victory' over [Daesh] in Raqqa prompt bafflement," the Russian ministry said.

The U.S. is overplaying the strategic significance of the fall of Raqqa, it charged.

In reality, Raqqa is a "provincial city" that is much smaller than Deir al-Zor, where a Russian-backed Syrian regime operation is underway, the ministry said.

It accused Western countries of pumping aid into Raqqa to mask the degree of destruction inflicted on the city.

Moscow, it said, had previously received only refusals from the West to its requests for international humanitarian aid.

"There is only one [reason] - the aim is to sweep away traces of barbaric bombings by U.S. aviation and the 'coalition' that buried in Raqqa's ruins thousands of peaceful citizens 'liberated' from the [Daesh]," the ministry claimed.

Russia has been operating a bombing campaign in Syria since 2015, when it stepped in to support President Bashar Assad's rule and tipped the conflict in his favor. Human rights monitors say that the raids have resulted in many civilian casualties.

 

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