Russia accused the U.S. of wiping the entire Syrian city of Raqqa “off the face of the earth,” on Sunday, according to multiple news sources and Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov who said that the U.S.-led coalition has effectively bombed Raqqa out of existence.
Konashenkov leveled other allegations that the U.S. is now trying to cover up its destruction of the city by “rushing to provide financial aid to Raqqa,” according to Reuters.
The years-long Syrian conflict has claimed the lives of an estimated 500,000 people, many of whom are civilians, since the hostilities began back in 2011. The fighting has also created more than a million refugees, in what is now the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.
The multi-faceted civil war is as complicated as it has been deadly for those caught within the center of it. U.S.-backed rebels have been attempting to oust Syrian President, Bashar al Assad, while the Syrian government has been conducting campaigns against what it calls terrorists, which includes U.S.-supported forces and ISIS. The U.S. and its supported factions are also engaging ISIS inside of Syrian territory, while other U.S.-backed militias are fighting Syrian government forces.
The Syrian government has also been receiving military aid from Russia and the conflict has now escalated to the point where Russia has become directly involved in the fighting. The U.S., which originally said that it would only assist rebels in an advisory capacity, is also increasingly becoming involved in the struggle.
To further complicate matters, Russian forces have reportedly been targeting U.S.-supported militias, while Syrian forces are allegedly targeting is own citizens. There have also been concerns that battlefield conditions could inadvertently lead to direct fighting between U.S. and Russian forces. Although measures have been taken to avoid such an incident, there has been intermittent interruptions in the safety protocols that are in place.
At least two chemical attacks have been blamed on pro-Assad forces against Syrian civilians. The most recent alleged chemical attack on civilians prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to order a cruise missile strike against Syrian forces earlier this year.
These allegations from Russia comes amid mounting evidence that it has been conducting psychological warfare operations against U.S. citizens via social media. Ongoing investigations by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, recently uncovered a sophisticated Russian plot, targeting American social media users.
Investigators revealed that Russia created hundreds of fake accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to sway the 2016 presidential election. Further scrutiny also exposed actions by Russian agents who set up accounts, pretending to be Americans, in order to conduct a disinformation campaign aimed at causing division among U.S. citizens.
[Featured Image by Gabriel Chaim/AP Images]