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Raqqa: US coalition ‘wiped city off Earth’, Russia says


Raqqa: US coalition 'wiped city off Earth', Russia says

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Media captionThe BBC's Feras Kilani was in Raqqa with anti-IS troops

Russia has accused the US-led coalition of bombing the Syrian city of Raqqa "off the face of the earth" during the fight against so-called Islamic State.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, took Raqqa last week.

Pictures suggest much of Raqqa is in ruins, and Moscow compared it to the Allied destruction of the German city of Dresden in World War Two.

The US-led coalition says it tried to minimise risks to civilians.

Russia has itself been accused of committing war crimes for its bombardment of Aleppo last year.

UN war crimes investigators in June that there had been a "staggering loss of civilian life" in Raqqa.

Syrian activists say between 1,130 and 1,873 civilians were killed and that many of the civilian casualties were the result of the intense US-led air strikes that helped the SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, advance.

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A Russian defence ministry spokesman said the ruins evoked the destruction of Dresden.

"Raqqa has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the earth by Anglo-American bombardments," Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said.

He said the West now appeared to be hurrying to send financial aid to Raqqa as a way of covering up evidence of its crimes.

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Image caption Allied bombing destroyed most of Dresden in 1945

The US-led coalition said it had adhered to strict targeting processes and procedures aimed to minimise risks to civilians.

The SDF declared victory in Raqqa last week after a four-month battle to retake the city from IS, which had ruled it for three years.

They say they have since taken the al-Omar oilfield, Syria's largest and a significant source of revenue for IS.

The SDF's fight against the militants is now focused on their last stronghold in Syria's eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

The Syrian army, supported by Russian airpower and Iranian-backed militias, is also attacking the extremist group.

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