Russia accuses US of 'wiping Raqqa off the face of the earth'

The Russian defense ministry has compared the U.S. bombing of Raqqa to the fate of Dresden, the German city that was nearly destroyed when it was firebombed in World War II.

The ministry spokesman declared that Raqqa had been "wiped off the face of the earth."


UN war crimes investigators in June that there had been a "staggering loss of civilian life" in Raqqa.

Syrian activists say between 1,130 and 1,873 civilians were killed and that many of the civilian casualties were the result of the intense US-led air strikes that helped the SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, advance.

A Russian defence ministry spokesman said the ruins evoked the destruction of Dresden.

"Raqqa has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the earth by Anglo-American bombardments," Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said.

He said the West now appeared to be hurrying to send financial aid to Raqqa as a way of covering up evidence of its crimes.

The US-led coalition said it had adhered to strict targeting processes and procedures aimed to minimise risks to civilians.

The SDF declared victory in Raqqa last week after a four-month battle to retake the city from IS, which had ruled it for three years.

They say they have since taken the al-Omar oilfield, Syria's largest and a significant source of revenue for IS.

The SDF's fight against the militants is now focused on their last stronghold in Syria's eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

The Syrian army, supported by Russian airpower and Iranian-backed militias, is also attacking the extremist group.

Last year, the Russian air force systematically destroyed the much larger city of Aleppo.  Two million people lived in Aleppo before the civil war.  It was a trading hub of the ancient world, and its magnificent ruins were an archeological treasure.  Today, it is estimated that its population has decreased by half as Russian bombers deliberately targeted neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, where the families of rebels against President Assad were living.  Thousands were killed, and much of the city is a pile of rubble.

And the Russians are accusing the U.S. of indiscriminate bombing?

From a U.N. report detailing Russian war crimes in Aleppo:

Warplanes targeted hospitals, bakeries and schools in a non-stop bombing campaign that lasted for months, beginning in September 2016. "Approximately 300 people – including 96 children – were killed in the first four days of the offensive alone," the report states.

Daily airstrikes "exclusively employing, as far as the Commission could determine, unguided air-delivered munitions. These included aerial bombs, air-to-surface rockets, cluster munitions, incendiary bombs and improvised air-delivered munitions (barrel bombs), and weapons delivering toxic industrial chemicals, including chlorine."

The dilemma facing U.S. war planners has not changed since the war on terror began.  What is called "asymmetrical warfare" is just another term for cowardly terrorists using women and children as human shields.  They count on the humanity of the U.S. to spare them while hoping the U.N. does their P.R. work for them by criticizing any civilian deaths.

There is no doubt that if Barack Obama were still president, ISIS would still be in Raqqa (and most other urban centers), and we'd be no closer to levering them out of their strongholds than we were for the three years of bombing.  New president, new rules of engagement.  No more ISIS in Raqqa.

The bombing of Raqqa proved to be most effective.  But it is entirely proper to explore the moral dimensions of war, including bombing civilian areas, where there is great likelihood that innocents will suffer and die.  While I have no doubt that our war-planners "had adhered to strict targeting processes and procedures aimed to minimise risks to civilians," we have to be aware that they knew that some civilians would die. 

I would argue that there is a world of difference between Russia deliberately targeting hospitals and the U.S. bombing areas most likely to kill terrorists.  Perhaps we need a new moral calculus when dealing with heartless terrorists who think nothing of using civilians as adjuncts to war.  Certainly, it must be taken into account when investigating war crimes.

One thing I know: you can't fight and win a war when one side totally ignores morality and the rules of war while holding your side to an impossible moral standard.  The world is changing, and the international community must change with it.

If you experience technical problems, please write to