Syria Daily: UN — “Staggering Loss of Civilian Life” from US Airstrikes on Raqqa

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People move through rubble after a reported US airstrike on Raqqa, June 2017

A UN commission has reported large numbers of civilians slain by US airstrikes near the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s central position in Syria.

American warplanes have been supporting the advance by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Raqqa in an offensive which began last November. Hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed, as SDF fighters finally entered the city last week and reached the walls of the Old City on Monday.

See Syria Daily, June 13: Kurds-Led SDF Advances Inside ISIS-Held Raqqa

Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said yesterday:

The intensification of airstrikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced….

The imperative to fight terrorism must not, however, be undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where ISIL [the Islamic State] is present.

The committee, drawing from testimony of survivors and witnesses, said at least 300 people have been killed by the aerial attacks near and in Raqqa since March.

About 200 of the victims were from a single incident, a March 22 US strike on a school housing displaced people near Raqqa.

The US has only acknowledged 484 civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since June 2014. The tracking group Airwars puts the number at more than 3,800.

Pinheiro’s statement to the UN Human Rights Council came as Human Rights Watch summarized concerns about the use of white phosphorus munitions by the US.

White phosphorus can be used as a smoke screen or for signaling and marking, but its use as a weapon on populated areas is banned by international law.

Steve Goose, HRW’s arms director, said:

No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul [ISIS’s center in Iraq] and any other areas with concentrations of civilians. US-led forces should take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm when using white phosphorus in Iraq and Syria.

US diplomat Jason Mack did not refer to Raqqa or white phosphorus in his address to the Human Rights Council. Instead, he declared the Assad regime “the primary perpetrator” of human rights violations.

TOP PHOTO: Claimed image of civilians inspecting damage from US airstrike on Raqqa

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6 COMMENTS

  1. #International: Interesting article that argues that UAE is playing a double game (e.g. publicly anti-Iranian, privately does business with Iran, publicly anti-Assad but privately has no problem with members of the Assad family living and doing business there) in the region –
    .
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-real-story-behind-the-diplomatic-crisis-with-qatar/article/2008461#.WUG-Hk2ASfw.twitter
    .
    Excerpt from the above link: ‘Syrian Air flies to the UAE, even though Syria’s national carrier was sanctioned in 2013 “on charges of providing a platform for … the Quds Force, to ship illicit arms and ammunition for the Syrian regime’s crackdown.” Syria’s second-largest carrier, Cham Wings, sanctioned by Treasury in December 2016 for providing material support to entities sanctioned for proliferation and terrorism activities, flies to Dubai. According to a FDD report from Ottolenghi and Weinberg, Cham Wings “may have also transported weapons and militias between Iran and Syria … In recent months, Cham Wings aircraft have flown routes that [the IRGC] and the Syrian regime regularly use for that purpose— including twice a week to Tehran.”…The UAE, where Iran often moves money, has served as something like an offshore site for Iran and the Assad regime (the dictator’s sister lives in Dubai) to wage their genocidal campaign. Treasury sanctioned Hezbollah procurement agents with offices in the UAE; it sanctioned networks of individuals and companies with offices in the UAE that worked in the petroleum sector assisting Assad and the Iranians; and there are sanctions against UAE-based companies like Yona Star, “a shipping agent for the Syrian Air Force, as well as other designated Government of Syria entities, including the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC),” the organization responsible for the Syrian regime’s unconventional weapons arsenal, including chemical weapons.’
    .
    If the above is true then the UAE is not anywhere near sympathetic to the Syrian revolution as it pretends to be and like Jordan the UAE may covertly be attempting to subvert/undermine the revolution from within.

  2. Why do these civilians still stay in Raqqa and refuse to leave for safety? Why are they avoiding the SDF liberated areas? Are these civilians helping ISIS out?

  3. Just compare ISIS stormtroopers to the miserable regime troops or the ridicule neo-marxists bots (both non-entities without foreing airpower), the superior yankee war machine and its snake eaters are the only thing preventing ISIS reaching its goal:

    Mosul Campaign Day 241 Jun 14 2017

    “The Islamic State launched a surprise attack upon the Iraqi forces in two neighborhoods in southern west Mosul. Starting at 3 am around 100 Islamic State fighters attacked the Danadan neighborhood coming out of the Old City district. The fighters moved along the Tigris River and opened with 7 car bombs from the front and 25 suicide bombers that hit the Federal Police from the rear. One police commander told the press there might have been up to 50 suicide bombers, but that figure might have just come from the heat of the battle with so many explosions going off. The Federal Police claimed that IS sleeper cells were responsible for the attacks from behind. The insurgents set fire to buildings to create smoke to try to prevent air strikes, took over a mosque to announce their presence, and executed 6 people. They were able to expand the attack into Dawasa and Nabi Sheet as well. The police were temporarily forced back to the Mosul airport outside of the city. By the afternoon, the Iraqi forces (ISF) and a spokesman for the U.S. led Coalition claimed that all the lost territory was re-captured. That was contradicted by a man who talked with the Washington Post who said there were still IS fighters on his block, and a Federal Police officer who told Reuters clashes continued”

    http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com.ar/2017/06/mosul-campaign-day-241-jun-14-2017.html

  4. Easter in The Federation of Northern Syria, where the most important Arab Sheikh of the region attends Church: m.youtube.com/watch?feature=… #SDF https://t.co/yAG7Z1gMdR
    https://twitter.com/JohannesdeJong7/status/853957332618838018 4/17/2017

    #SRO | IMPORTANT – Gulf states seeing #SDF tribal arab component best player for #DeZ offensive (contrary to #US) in coming year (2).
    https://twitter.com/Syria_Rebel_Obs/status/875839812992995328 6/16/2017

    [PYD co-chair Salih Muslim] said there are good relations between the Arab tribes and the Kurds in northern Syria and he hoped that the presence of Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries will help to consolidate the bonds of brotherhood between the people and different communities.
    http://aranews.net/2017/06/syrian-kurdish-leader-iran-hostile-fundamental-rights-kurdish-people/ 6/17/2017

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