World, Middle East

In post-Daesh Raqqah, slain locals await proper burials

The YPG/PKK terrorist group overran Syria’s Raqqah last year

Ali Murat Alhas   | 18.10.2018
In post-Daesh Raqqah, slain locals await proper burials


By Omer Koparan, Adham Kako and Levent Tok


It has been a year since Syria's Raqqa province, once known as a Daesh stronghold, came under the control of the YPG/PKK terrorist group.

Today, the bodies of slain civilians -- found in numerous mass graves -- are being prepared for proper burials.

The YPG/PKK seized the war-torn province -- with U.S. air cover -- on Oct. 17 of last year.

Throughout the last 12 months, numerous mass graves have been found in the city based on information obtained from the families of the missing.

Raqqa’s so-called “civil assembly”, set up in an attempt to justify the YPG/PKK’s ongoing occupation of the city, has granted some Arab residents positions on the assembly to give the impression that the local community has a say in the city’s administration.

Ilyas Hamish, a member of the civil assembly responsible for issues related to the mass graves, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that the local authorities had found most of the graves based on information provided by grieving families.

"We are currently working in the city’s Old Mosque district, where there appear to be 50 to 80 bodies," he said.

Noting that most of the bodies had been improperly buried, Hamish said that 30 of them had since been disinterred and were now being prepared for reburial.

Mahmoud Ahmad, who was forced to bury his child in the area, said his son was killed by a U.S. airstrike.

“We buried my son here when airstrikes were raining down on Raqqa and we couldn't take him to a proper cemetery,” Ahmad lamented.

He went on to recount how he and his family had fled Raqqa after the hasty burial of his son.

“We thought of it [his son’s burial] as a temporary solution. But upon our return, we encountered great difficulty finding the burial site again,” he said.

“There were only four people buried here back then; now there are more than 100,” he added.

In a report released last week, an activist group that documents atrocities in the city (dubbed "Raqqa is being slaughtered silently") stated: "Raqqa’s civil assembly received financial support from the [U.S.-led] coalition to find bodies, remove debris, and sweep for landmines and explosives.”

“But the assembly has does almost nothing regarding these issues," the report states, adding that some 3,000 bodies had so far been unearthed from the mass grave found near the city center.

- YPK/PKK terror

For the past year, the YPG/PKK has oppressed and terrorized Raqqa’s local population -- as it has in other areas under its control.

It has forcibly recruited civilians into its ranks and has prevented many local residents from rebuilding their homes, many of which were destroyed last year by intense coalition airstrikes.

The YPG/PKK, however, does not provide any public services, while residents accused of having links with the opposition frequently face arbitrary detention.

In a report published last December, the U.K.-based Syrian Network for Human Rights said a total of 2,323 civilians had been killed in Raqqa in the period from November 2016 to October 2017.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara

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