Amnesty International Says Civilians Trapped in 'Deadly Labyrinth' in Raqqa

Aug 26, 2017, 01:17
Amnesty International Says Civilians Trapped in 'Deadly Labyrinth' in Raqqa

The report also accuses coalition forces of hiding the true extent of casualties.

At least seven civilians have lost their lives when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group conducted a series of aerial assaults on Syria's eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

She said most of civilian casualties from the US -led coalition were because the ammunition being used was not precise enough and had wide-impact radii.

"We've asked people to put a piece of paper in their pockets with their name and addresses written on them so we can know who they are after a bombing", Zaid a-Thabit, a Syrian journalist and Raqqa resident told Syria Direct in an interview last week. "This region is the location of a concentration of militants from Mosul, the bulk of with is the most combat-capable and well-equipped units of the Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) who came from Raqqa".

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The letter further said, "The government of the Syrian Arab Republic calls on the Security Council to implement its resolutions on the fight against terrorism, especially Resolution 2253, and to immediately stop the crimes by the coalition against innocent civilians in Syria". USA officials told Reuters that there now are about 10 to 12 calls a day on the hotline, helping keep US and Russian warplanes apart as they support different fighters on the ground.

In one incident documented by Amnesty, a dozen shells hit a single residential building, killing at least 12 people, among them a baby.

Amnesty said the testimonials they collected suggested cluster bombs had been used in some of the attacks.

SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters last week that there would be an SDF campaign toward Deir al-Zor "in the near future", but he didn't specify whether it would be delayed until Raqqa was fully taken from Islamic State.

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Residents of towns south of Raqqa also described fleeing indiscriminate air bombardments in the area in mid-July.

Russian Federation and Syria say they only target militants. Inside the city, however, conditions are "very bleak" and "it is very hard to assist". Gen. Rupert Jones, deputy commander of the coalition's task force against ISIS, told reporters Wednesday. The UN estimates that about 25,000 civilians may remain in the city risking IS sniper fire and mines in the city. 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.

Townsend challenged the notion that civilian casualties had increased "to some significant degree", while conceding that because operations have increased in intensity "it's probably logical to assume that there has been some increase in the civilian casualties".

The intensity of the bombing campaign, combined with the Islamic State's stranglehold on Internet access in Raqqa, has made monitoring the situation on the ground more challenging than at any time during the Syrian war.

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