The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that about 4,247 people have gone missing in the province of Raqqa, noting that many may be buried in the mass graves that have been discovered in the province in recent months. It stressed that it is the responsibility of the United Nations to identify the bodies in those graves.
In a report released on Thursday, the Network said that at least 2,323 civilians, including 543 children and 346 women, were killed in ‘Operation Euphrates Rage’, which was launched by the militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to drive ISIS out of Raqqa. It said that the majority of those were killed in shelling by the PYD militia and airstrikes by the international anti-ISIS coalition and were buried in public parks, playgrounds, and courtyards.
The report indicated that 4,823 civilians, including 922 children and 679 women, were killed in the province of Raqqa from March 2011 to March 2019. Of those, 1,829 were killed at the hands of the Assad regime and 241 others at the hands of the Russian forces. The figure also included 942 civilians who were killed by ISIS and 308 others who were killed by the PYD militia. The airstrikes by the international anti-ISIS coalition killed 1,133 civilians while 367 others were killed in attacks that the monitoring group said were untraceable.
The Network also said that at least 4,247 people, including 219 children and 81 women, have gone missing in the province of Raqqa since March 2011. Of those, 1,712 people were forcibly disappeared by the regime forces, 2,125 people by ISIS, and 288 by the PYD militia.
The monitoring group added that the PYD militia is not following the appropriate procedures when digging out the bodies, such as the collection of samples from the bodies. It stressed that such procedures are necessary to identify the bodies through the making of DNA tests for comparison and matching.
The Network warned the PYD militia against tampering with the mass graves and the destruction of evidence. It emphasized the need to establish a laboratory where samples collected from the bodies could be compared with samples taken from relatives of the missing persons. It also called for establishing a database of the missing persons and to speed up the demining operations in order to facilitate the return of civilians to their homes in Raqqa and the digging up of the bodies buried in mass graves.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier called for highlighting the issue of mass graves and to follow up on the digging up of the bodies. It also called for issuing recommendations to the UN Security Council to take action to disclose the fate of the tens of thousands who went missing in Raqqa. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)