Amnesty slams coalition's use of unguided missiles in Raqqa

Report: US-Led Airstrikes Kill 167 Civilians in Syria
US Coalition, ISIS and Assad Have Raqqa Residents Trapped In A 'Deadly Labrynth'
Author

26 August, 2017

The UN on Thursday called for a humanitarian pause to allow 20,000 trapped civilians to escape the besieged Syrian city of Raqqah.

However, the report's authors warn this is only the tip of the iceberg, largely because Russian forces and ISIS do not give data on civilian casualties.

"We were directly targeted by the coalition after their reconnaissance craft filmed us, it was at a low altitude", an eyewitness told Ruptly at Al-Qamishli National hospital in Hasaka on Tuesday.

"This is the time to try anything to allow the safe escape".

Amnesty said civilians in Raqqa now face an even greater risk to their lives as the fighting has reached the final stages.

Scrocca said in comments emailed to The Associated Press that IS militants had years to prepare Raqqa's defense, making a house-to-house, street-by-street battle, as well as civilian casualties, inevitable.

Coalition spokesman Col. Joe Scrocca says the report is based on "scant information" and plays "into the hands" of IS.

"But violations by IS do not lessen the global legal obligations of other warring parties to protect civilians", Rovera said. Russian Federation and the United States are the co-chairs of the taskforces and the ISSG, which also comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries.

Report: US-Led Airstrikes Kill 167 Civilians in Syria
Hundreds of civilians killed in US led coalition campaign to oust IS from Raqqa: AI

British Army Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, the deputy commander for the US -led coalition, told reporters Wednesday that coalition jets go to "extraordinary lengths" to minimize civilian casualties when conducting airstrikes. The local forces are armed with 120 mm mortars.

"Coalition forces have listed 16 reports of alleged casualties in or near Raqqa between 6 and 30 June, dismissing three as "non-credible", while 13 others are pending assessment", Amnesty said. Resident testimonies indicate the missiles have targeted areas of hundreds of square meters, rather than specific targets "which, if true, would constitute not only disproportionate but also indiscriminate attacks".

The jihadists have lost swathes of Syrian territory to separate campaigns being waged by government forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and by the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia.

"Extreme caution now also there has to be exercised, not to make it in anyway worse, for the civilian population", he said.

Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria, said on Thursday that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group was doing its "absolute best to use [civilians] as human shields".

"In 2007, the United Nations said very clearly that the bombing in civilian areas is a violation of global human rights law and that the presence of a few combatants in a civilian area does not change the nature of that area".

Airwars, an independent monitor that tracks casualties and US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, now estimates that a minimum of 5,000 civilians have likely been killed by coalition actions in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

But rights groups say the actual figure is much higher, and Amnesty criticised the coalition's investigation methods for failing to include site visits or witness interviews.

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