Russia likens US-led bombing of Raqqa to WWII destruction of Dresden

Russia likens US-led bombing of Raqqa to WWII destruction of Dresden
Russia, who has been operating a bombing campaign in Syria in support of Assad's regime, has likened the US coalition's operations against IS Raqqa to Second World War Dresden.
2 min read
22 October, 2017
The US-led coalition backed Kurdish fighters in driving IS out of Raqqa [Getty]

Russia on Sunday accused the US-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 defence ministry said that Raqqa - the capital of the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed caliphate - "inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, razed to the ground by Anglo-American bombings".

US-backed Kurdish-led forces last week recaptured Raqqa, the capital of IS's self-proclaimed caliphate and its last major stronghold in Syria.

US officials hailed the event, led by President Donald Trump who, using another acronym for IS, said "the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight."

"The bravura statements by official representatives of the US administration about the 'outstanding victory' over IS in Raqqa prompt bafflement," the Russian ministry said.

The US 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 az-Zour, 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 US aviation and the 'coalition' that buried in Raqqa's ruins thousands of peaceful citizens 'liberated' from the IS," the ministry claimed.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fueled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

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

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.