Syrian government forces have discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of nearly three dozen people executed by members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group near the country’s northern city of Raqqah.
A Syrian field commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Friday that Syrian troopers made the discovery in the al-Ramthan area of the province, located about 455 kilometers (283 miles) northeast of the capital Damascus, and the grave has the corpses of 34 civilians and military personnel in it.
An unnamed civilian defense official said the bodies have been transferred to the military hospital in the northwestern city of Aleppo to be identified through DNA tests, and later returned to their families.
Syrian Forensic Medicine General Director Zaher Hajo told Arabic-language and pro-government al-Watan daily in early January that Daesh Takfiris had executed 10,000 people and buried their bodies in mass graves across Raqqah.
He stressed that his colleagues had confirmed the presence of 4,000 bodies in one single grave.
Hajo went on to say that Syrian Health Minister Nizar Yazigi has ordered the formation of a committee in order to collect the remains of the victims and transfer them to the military hospital in Aleppo.
He stated that identification of the victims, using their teeth and bones, will start next week, stressing that he will chair the committee.
Hajo said the mass graves have been found in areas now controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a US-backed group of Kurdish and Arab forces.
The SDF said on October 20, 2017 that it had “liberated” Raqqah after driving out Daesh terrorists from the city, which served as Daesh’s de facto capital in the war-ravaged Arab country.
The US-backed forces later said the political future of the city and the province of the same name would be determined “within the framework of a decentralized, federal, democratic Syria.”
SDF spokesman Talal Silo said that the group would hand over the control of Raqqah to what he called “the Raqqah Civil Council.”
Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar reacted by saying that Raqqah’s future could only be discussed “as part of the final political structure of the Syrian state.”
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has, meanwhile, said that the SDF’s purported operations in Raqqah have killed civilians and damaged infrastructure in the city.
“When you’re killing around 1,200 civilians — nearly half of them women and children — and destroying 80 percent of the city, that’s not liberating Raqqah,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR, told Arab News daily newspaper.