Zakharova: Russian Diplomat Blasts Western Establishment for ‘Conspiracy of Silence’ on Raqqa

MOSCOW- Moscow believes there is some sort of veil of secrecy in the Western media and political circles to whitewash the real situation in Syria’s Raqqa to avoid discrediting Washington’s activities, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday, according to Itar Tass.

"An apparent conspiracy of silence, it is difficult to call it otherwise, is being shaped in the Western media and political circles regarding the true state of affairs in Raqqa," she noted. "This is done in order not to discredit actions by Washington and its allies in Syria, who have no legal grounds for their presence in Syria. Concurrently, attempts continue to blow the issue out of proportion and distort developments in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, which are part of the de-escalation zones set up in Syria."

 According to Zakharova, the reality on the ground in Raqqa is that the situation in the city "continues to be extremely difficult." "Significant parts of the city remain mine-laden. There is a huge amount of unexploded munitions, more than 80% of the buildings there have been decimated, and the city’s public water supply system is not working. Electricity is available only in certain districts. Many corpses remain under the rubble, and the threat of an epidemic breaking out is huge. The relevant UN agencies have so far been unable to evaluate the situation, and there are no conditions for civilians to return to the city," she stressed.

"The reasons for that are obvious. These are indiscriminate military actions by the so-called US-led coalition purportedly countering IS (the Islamic State terror group, outlawed in Russia - TASS). Later, some local administration scheme was concocted, which is not controlled by the legitimate Syrian government in Damascus," Zakharova concluded.

Russia Expects Syrian Congress in Sochi to be Held in Late January

Zakharova also said that Russia still proceeds from the fact that the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue will be held in Sochi in late January.

"To date, we assume it to be held in late January," the diplomat said, answering a question on the terms for the event. "Work on the lists of participants is currently underway."

"As soon as we are able to confirm the precise date and lists of those invited, we will surely do it," she added.

The Syrian Congress of National Dialogue is due to be held in Sochi in late January. It is expected to gather about 1,500 delegates representing various political forces in Syria.