AMNESTY International carried out a field investigation in the city of Raqqa in Northern Syria. They have reported the true horror of the UK, French and US military campaign which the US Defence Secretary James Mattis promised would be a ‘war of annihilation’ against IS.
The reality was that it was a war of annihilation against the people of the city whose homes were completely annihilated and reduced to rubble by the imperialists. It was not IS which was annihilated in Raqqa but thousands of local men, women and children, who were killed or injured as their homes were pounded every night by coalition airstrikes and bombing raids.
Airstrikes by the US-led coalition in Raqqa, Syria, ‘probably breached international humanitarian law’ and ‘potentially amount to war crimes’, the Amnesty report states. US, British and French coalition forces carried out tens of thousands of air strikes and US forces admitted to firing 30,000 artillery rounds during the offensive on Raqqa. US forces were responsible for more than 90% of the air strikes, which means that at least 10% were carried out by UK and French forces.
The US-led coalition has admitted killing at least 484 civilians in air strikes in Syria and Iraq. However, the UK refuses to admit to even a single civilian death. In 2017, United Nations war crimes investigators denounced a ‘staggering loss of civilian life’ in Raqqa. The independent commission of inquiry was tasked with investigating violations of international law, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.
Footage has emerged of coalition planes deploying white phosphorus in the city. This is a weapon that burns with a bright white light at such a high temperature, that if it touches your skin it burns right through to the bone. The Amnesty International investigation involved researchers visiting 42 Coalition air strike sites across the ruined city and interviewing 112 civilian residents who had survived the carnage and lost loved ones.
Between them, they lost 90 relatives and neighbours – 39 from a single family – almost all of them killed by coalition air strikes. The interviews with the surviving members of the families expose the ruthless and bloodthirsty nature of imperialism. The Aswads were a family of traders in Raqqa. They were seeking shelter in their basement when, on 28 June, a coalition air strike destroyed the building, killing eight, mostly children. 39 family members of the Badran family were killed in four separate coalition air strikes as they moved from place to place.
Rasha Badran told Amnesty International: ‘We thought the forces who came to evict Daesh (IS) would know their business and would target Daesh and leave the civilians alone. We were naïve. By the time we had realised how dangerous it had become everywhere, it was too late; we were trapped.’ After several attempts to flee, she and her husband finally managed to escape, having lost their entire family, including their only child, a one-year-old girl named Tulip, whose tiny body they buried near a tree.
Amnesty shows how a Coalition blitz during the final hours of the battle wiped out entire families in the Harat al-Badu area of central Raqqa. The deaths of Mohammed, Abu Saif, Fayad and 15 family members in coalition air strikes early on 12 October were all the more senseless because, just hours later, the US-led coalition agreed a deal with IS, granting remaining IS fighters a safe passage out of Raqqa!
So it was a war of annihilation against the civilians trapped in Raqqa, while there was a safe passage for the IS fighters out of Raqqa! The US-coalition had no intention of ‘annihilating’ IS. The US, UK and France’s real intention was to drive IS across Syria, where they wanted to use the terrorist group to destabilise the country and create the conditions to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
However, the opposite is now the case. The Syrian army, with the backing of the Russian airforce, has driven the terrorists back and support for Assad has grown stronger than ever before. Syria is now in full control of all of the regions around the capital Damascus, with the terrorists concentrated in the north-west of the country.
About 2,000 US troops are deployed in north-east Syria, while France has expanded its military presence in the country. French special forces have established six artillery batteries in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq. No doubt UK special forces are among them. Workers in the West must stand with the Syrian people and government and support their demand that all uninvited foreign forces must leave Syria now!
The worldwide crisis of capitalism and imperialism is driving it to wars abroad and to attack workers at home. The leader of the Russian Revolution, Lenin, fought for revolutionary defeatism. He said that the real enemy of the working class is its own rulers, its own ruling class.
There is not the slightest doubt that the ruthlessness shown by the UK, US and French ruling classes to the workers of Raqqa will also be shown to the UK, US and French workers when they rise up to seize the power and control over their own destinies. Workers will not be able to take over the capitalist state. They will have to break it up and smash it with socialist