A year ago, the US and its allies in the antiterrorist coalition launched an operation to liberate the capital of the ISIS – Rakka. According to the Pentagon, bombing did not lead to mass casualties among the population. Human rights activists who visited the city in the spring had other information. The recently published report reports hundreds of dead civilians, some of whom were killed by the US military a few hours before the ceasefire with the ISIS.
“Bombing, not seen since Vietnam” — others said.
The operation of the Arab-Kurdish “Syrian Democratic Forces”, supported by American aviation, lasted from June 6 to October 12, 2017. The offensive was conducted with the aim of capturing the main city of the ISIS. In Washington they wanted to take Rakka quickly, otherwise the initiative could be intercepted by other armed groups and the role of the United States in the victory over the jihadists would be in doubt.
“The operation to capture Rakka, tactically important, was also of symbolic significance, it was to show that the US and its allies are able to act promptly and efficiently when they need it.” The key was the time, the funds were thought less, so the most effective , but not always conventional weapons, “- said Russian orientalist Grigory Lukyanov.
International Amnesty also believes that the fighting in Rakka and the surrounding area was “extraordinary.” According to human rights activists, the shelling was conducted with intensity, not seen since the Vietnam War. “The accuracy of the shells is one hundred meters, which is not surprising that everything turned into a mass death of civilians,” said Amnesty International spokeswoman Donatella Rovera.
“We were punished for being naive”, – said Syrians.
And eight months after the expulsion of the ISIS, Rakka is one of the most inaccessible cities in the world. All around is mined, partially returned local residents observe the regime established by the US allies. About what really happened in the summer and autumn of last year, the public will find out with great delay.
In spring, human rights defenders visited the city and the surrounding area, interviewed 112 witnesses. They reported on families who lost 90 people among their relatives and friends. Victims are people of small incomes who could not pay for the services of “fellow travelers” – professional guides, who took people out of the city for money. In the list of the dead and those who stayed in Rakka for fear of robbery, in the hope of protecting their property during the period of anarchy. Some did not want to leave the city because of the minefields.
Those who stayed in Rakka did not consider the US and its allies to be a source of danger.
“We believed that they came to knock out the ISIS and will conduct military operations, sparing the population.We were naive.When we realized the degree of danger, it was too late, we were trapped,” one of the townspeople told human rights defenders. Other interlocutors wondered why the Americans were dangerous for civilians, although they were fighting the ISIS.
The collected evidence demonstrates the desperation of people trapped between terrorists on the ground and American planes in the air.
“Those who stayed in the city were killed, and those who tried to escape, too, we did not have the means to pay the guides.” The trap was slammed, says resident of Rakka Munira Hashish. According to her, when they managed to get out of the city, they were saved, “by following the blood of those who blew up on mines before us.”
Members of the Fayyad family told about the tragedy of the central quarter of Rakka Harat al-Badu, where, as it was known to the allies, the terrorists of ISIS used civilians as human shields. This did not stop the bombardment. As a result, on October 12, 2017, one of the Fayyadites died. A few hours later, jihadists and US allies concluded a truce agreement.
The State Department of the United States did not comment on the report of human rights defenders. The official view remains of General Stephen Townsend, who stated in September 2017 that “the operation to capture Rakki is the most point military campaign in the history of armed conflicts.” Damascus treats those events differently: as a violation of the country’s territorial sovereignty and “intervention”, which was accompanied by the mass death of civilians.
“The bombing of densely populated cities – what the United States did in Syria – is not always a particularly effective measure,” commented Valia Club expert, associate professor of the Higher School of Economics Konstantin Truyevtsev.
“The method chosen by Russia was better, since the oil infrastructure of the ISIS was affected, which is much less destructive, and it is another matter to attack the cities,” the expert explains.
The sufferings of the civilian population in Rakka does not give the US the right to speak about its “moral superiority” in Syria. Recall: the basis for a missile strike on positions of the Syrian troops in April served as accusations of death of 40 to 70 people as a result of a chemical attack. Last April, Syria was bombed on suspicion of the death of 89 people. The operation in Rakka, held under the hands by the Americans themselves, turned into hundreds of victims among civilians.