Raqqa, a Dresden of the 21th century, still remains in ruins almost a year after the US-led coalition’s bombardment of the city. A lot of mass graves are still being found in Raqqa province. However, the biggest mass grave is the city itself, Zaher Hajo, the director of the Syrian Office of Forensic Medicine, told Sputnik.
Raqqa has turned into a massive collective grave after being vandalized and looted by terrorists and then razed to the ground by the US-led coalition.
Assessing the results of US-led air raids, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov opined that Raqqa “inherited the fate of Dresden, that was wiped off the ground during Anglo-American bombing campaign in 1945.”
Zaher Hajo, the director of the Syrian Office of Forensic Medicine, told Sputnik Arabic that forensic experts claim that the terrible stories told by the city’s residents about executions and brutal torture practices invented by terrorists have turned out to be true.
“Hundreds of people were killed by nails, which were hammered into their hearts or heads,” he said. “People were burned, scalded with boiling water or hot oil, dumped from the roofs of houses. Every day, a dozen people were decapitated and their bodies were nailed to the walls as shooting targets. Very rarely the bodies were given to relatives under the condition of not burying them at Muslim cemeteries.”
Hajo recalled that in 2016 during Eid al-Adha (the “festival of sacrifice”), terrorists killed 10 young people under the age of 20 from the al-Aqisat tribe. “They were killed in a slaughterhouse like sheep,” the Syrian official noted.
He highlighted that thousands of people are still missing and dozens of mass graves have yet to be found. According to Hajo, the deceased had fallen victim to Daesh* (ISIS/ISIL), al-Nusra Front* and other terrorist organizations.
“About 3,000 dead bodies were found in a cave, near the village of Suluk, in the north of Raqqa province,” the official said. “This cave looks like a deep well. Militants gathered the dead from all around and left [them] there. The bodies of children, the elderly, and even a groom with [his] bride, who were executed on [their] wedding day, were found there.”
Hajo noted that a lot of mass graves were discovered near prisons and hospitals: In 2017, 381 people, including women and children, were executed in the National Hospital of Raqqa. All of them were buried in the yard.
In October 2017, during the final phase of the US-led operation to liberate the city, the terrorists killed 297 people, mostly women and children, who tried to flee the city, he asserted. Their bodies were allegedly buried on the western outskirts of Raqqa.
“However, Raqqa’s largest mass grave is located in the very center of the city — these [is the] debris of buildings, under which lie the victims of the American coalition’s bombing operation,” Hajo emphasized.
Raqqa was liberated in mid-October 2017 when the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by US aircraft retook the city from terrorists. However, thousands of dead bodies still remain under the wreckage.
The shortage of equipment and the lack of assistance from the international community make Raqqa’s restoration a nearly impossible task. People continue to die in Raqqa, being killed in mine blasts. Most of these mines were left after a massive bombardment by US-led coalition warplanes. Ammunition blasts claim dozens of lives weekly, including those of children.
The Syrian civil war, which started in 2011, involves a vast number of extremist Islamic organizations and regional players. The US kicked off its invasion of Syria in 2014 without getting any approval from the legitimate Syrian government or the United Nations. In 2015 Russia stepped in after an official request from Damascus.
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), al-Nusra Front are terrorist groups banned in Russia.