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30 Mar, 2018 14:15

Raqqa civilians rise against US-backed rebels amid dire humanitarian situation – Russian military

Raqqa civilians rise against US-backed rebels amid dire humanitarian situation – Russian military

Facing the dire plight of living in devastated Raqqa, people have begun an uprising against US-backed rebel forces unable to meet civilians’ basic needs, the Russian military reported.

Civilians living in the “liberated” suburbs of Raqqa, Syria, are now facing persecution from US-backed rebel groupings whose ruthless conduct have forced people to react, according to Sergey Rudskoy, deputy chief of the Russian military’s General Staff. He noted that access to basic amenities in the city destroyed in the fighting is virtually non-existent. It also contributes to growing anger and frustration over how the rebels are running the city.

“The native Arab population is subjected to reprisals and exactions while forced mobilization is being carried out. This causes sharp discontent among local residents." Consequently, the locals have staged an uprising against “the high-handedness of rebel forces controlled by the US” in Al-Mansour, a town 25km southwest of Raqqa.

Raqqa, which was one of Syria’s largest cities before the war, is now facing a “disastrous humanitarian situation” which affects some 95,000 people who decided to return. Meanwhile in the city, “the infrastructure has been destroyed almost entirely, [and] residents don’t have access to public and social services.”

Only one hospital and one nursery are still operating in Raqqa; the lack of sanitation is also a problem as there is no running water. “Residents often take on water from the Euphrates River which increases the risk of infections and epidemics breaking out,” the general commented, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and local authorities appointed by the Americans “can’t fix humanitarian problems.”

The Russian military official had urged Western nations to put pressure on rebels to allow aid convoys – being sent by the UN and other humanitarian agencies – to reach the area and provide assistance to those in need.

Raqqa, which gained notoriety as the de facto capital of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), was retaken back in October 2017. However, several months after what was hailed by the US and its Western allies as a liberation, Raqqa still looks more like a battlefield, with the city landscape being dominated by partially collapsed buildings.

Driving IS out of the city came at a high cost: months of massive artillery shelling and the US-led coalition bombardments accompanied by intense clashes between the SDF and terrorists reduced entire residential blocks to rubble.

Earlier in February, an RT crew visited post-war Raqqa, filming numerous buildings damaged beyond repair or rendered uninhabitable. The streets of the city, which are surrounded by the ruins of what were once residential districts, are still filled with debris. 

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