Rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday said that civilians in Syria’s Raqqa face “fire from all sides”, as the United States-led coalition attempts to drive the Islamic State group out of its last stronghold in the country. Amnesty said civilians in Raqqa now face an even greater risk to their lives as the fighting has reached the final stages.
“As the battle to wrest Raqqa from the Islamic State intensifies, thousands of civilians are trapped in a deadly labyrinth where they are under fire from all sides,” Amnesty Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera said. “Knowing that the Islamic State uses civilians as human shields, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US forces must redouble efforts to protect civilians, notably by avoiding disproportionate or indiscriminate strikes and creating safe exit routes.”
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday said the coalition takes all possible measures to prevent civilian casualties. “We are the good guys and the innocent people on the battlefield know the difference,” he said.
At least 42 civilians were killed in Raqqa on Monday in US-led airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There were 19 children among the casualties. Observatory Director Rami Abdel Rahman said the airstrikes hit the densely populated Al-Badu area at the city centre.