The West’s counter-ISIS efforts cost Iraq and Syria dearly

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
The West’s counter-ISIS efforts cost Iraq and Syria dearly
According to the UN, mass media, and NGOs, as a result of air and artillery strikes by the US-led counter-ISIS coalition in Syria, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians have died.

The number of refugees and temporarily displaced persons from Raqqa has reached 200,000. At present, there are still 25,000-40,000 civilians in the city, which until 2013 was inhabited by almost 300,000 people.

Since January, the coalition has carried out more than two thousand air strikes, with 12-16 sorties a day in June-July. Almost constantly, Raqqa is pounded by howitzer and rocket artillery. There is information about the use of white phosphorus munitions. The city infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, government agencies, and at least a quarter of the housing stock, has been almost completely destroyed. The water and electricity supply has been disrupted. Residents have found themselves between a hammer and an anvil, turning into hostages of ISIS terrorists and the US-led alliance. There are no exit corridors for civilians, as well as organized delivery of humanitarian aid.

Given the scale of the fighting and the experience of the US-supported operation in Mosul, there is every reason to believe that the actual number of victims and destruction of Raqqa will be much greater than the currently circulating official data. Contrary to the assertions of the US military, independent experts claim that since October 2016, in Mosul alone 10,000-40,000 civilians were killed, and more than 100,000 were injured. It looks like an attempt to inflict maximum damage on the local population, especially the Arabs. What is the purpose of all this? To humiliate and marginalize them, or to cause antagonism between the Arabs and the Syrian Kurds?

The West still refuses to recognize the indisputable success of the counter-terrorism efforts of the Syrian Army, achieved with the support of the Russian Air Force. The sanctions imposed on Damascus deny humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of Syrians in liberated areas. Against the background of the approaching liberation of the eastern regions of Syria, the West deliberately ignores a historic chance to unite into a truly broad counter-terrorism coalition in the region, as put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September 2015.

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