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4,250 forcibly disappeared in Raqqa: monitor

Local | 2019-03-29 03:00:15
4,250 forcibly disappeared in Raqqa: monitor
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its latest report released Thursday that the identification of bodies in mass graves in Raqqa province is an international responsibility, noting that there are nearly 4,247 forcibly disappeared persons in Raqqa governorate whose fate needs to be disclosed.

The report notes that as people began trickling back to their homes in Raqqa after the defeat and withdrawal of ISIS from it in October 2017, mass graves were found scattered across several areas in Raqqa, prompting the local council in early 2018, several months after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of the city, to form the initial response team.

The 16-page report explains that prior to ISIS seizing control over Raqqa governorate in January 2014, the people of Raqqa used to bury their dead in two main cemeteries in Raqqa city, the ‘Tal al Bay’a’ cemetery and ‘Hittin’ cemetery. Among those who were buried in these cemeteries were the victims of attacks by Syrian Regime forces after the armed opposition forces took control of it, in addition to the bodies of local people who died naturally.

The report also notes that during the battle of ‘Euphrates Anger’ which began in November 2016 and concluded in October 2017, approximately 2,323 civilians were killed in Raqqa governorate, including 543 children and 346 women (adult female),with most of these people killed at the hands of SDF and International Coalition forces, with their families forced to bury them in local gardens and playgrounds, as well as within the yards of their homes, because it was extremely dangerous and virtually impossible for people to safely transport bodies to the Tal al Baya’a cemetery, given the military siege imposed by Syrian Democratic Forces, specifically on Raqqa city, especially since the cemetery is located in an open area, making the mourners vulnerable to being targeted by International Coalition forces and the SDF.
The report reveals that preparation of this report took almost seven months, and that it includes four accounts obtained through speaking directly with eyewitnesses, in addition to other information gained from speaking with members of the initial response team, one of whose tasks is the exhumation of mass graves. This report records only those civilian casualties killed in Raqqa governorate, omitting the demise of Raqqa residents elsewhere in Syria. In addition, SNHR also analyzed videos and pictures that were published online, or sent to us by local activists via e-mail, Skype or social network platforms, as well as comparing satellite images of the sites of these mass graves taken at the end of 2017 with similar images taken in 2013 or 2014. The comparison shows the excavation of trenches where the victims were buried.

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