nsucurrent.com February 20, 2018

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

26 August 2017, 01:17 | Colleen Roy

US Coalition, ISIS and Assad Have Raqqa Residents Trapped In A 'Deadly Labrynth'

Report: US-Led Airstrikes Kill 167 Civilians in Syria

The report also said that the coalition's use of airstrikes, while more accurate than artillery fire, has often hit civilians at home or while they attempted to flee.

US -backed Syrian fighters are bearing down on the city from all sides and as the fighting intensifies, thousands of civilians are finding it increasingly hard to escape the city, which is facing constant shelling by the USA -led coalition and allied Syrian Democratic Forces. "More can and must be done to preserve the lives of civilians trapped in the conflict and to facilitate their safe passage away from the battleground".

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition airstrikes killed 170 civilians in the span of a week earlier this month.

The U.S. -led coalition has neither denied nor confirmed the rights group's claims.

The SDF is believed to have captured more than half the city.

Beginning around the same time that the Old City area was brought under SDF control, US-backed fighters began storming key IS-held suburbs in western Raqqa including al-Maroor, al-Nahdah and al-Bitani.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces, which receive air support from Russian Federation, are pushing against the extremists in the countryside south of the city.

It is not known precisely how many civilians are left inside the city, though United Nations estimates range from 10,000 to 50,000 people.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed since the assault started in June, Amnesty International estimates.

Report: US-Led Airstrikes Kill 167 Civilians in Syria

But the fighting has proved increasingly bloody for civilians still trapped in Raqa, with one monitor reporting 167 civilians have been killed in coalition strikes in and around the city since August 14.

The report said civilians also come under fire from the Russia-backed Syrian government forces fighting IS militants to the south of Raqqa.

"But violations by IS do not lessen the worldwide legal obligations of other warring parties to protect civilians". The team confirmed the deaths in interviews with dozens of civilians and others.

Civilians say United States forces have been targeting boats they use to cross the Euphrates and escape the city. "They have the means to do that".

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".

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the USA commander of the operation against ISIS, told reporters earlier this week that it would not be surprising to see increased civilian casualties since the operation's start.

"We're also concerned also for our lifeline to the people inside Deir al-Zor (city), some 90,000 people and they only have our air drops", he said in Geneva on Thursday.

The group urged an end to the use of explosive weapons like artillery in populated civilian areas, and called for the creation of an independent and impartial investigation mechanism to examine reported civilian casualties.

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