US Airstrikes Kill at Least 43 Civilians in Syria's Raqqa

Claudine Rigal
Août 6, 2017

However, the UK-based Airwars group which monitors airstrikes and civilian casualties in Iraq, Libya and Syria based on open-source reports and military figures, contradict this claim.

Aggressive steps taken by the Trump administration have brought "dramatically accelerated" gains against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the last 6 months, a top State Department official said.

"The systematic bombing of residential areas, houses of civilians, the destruction of the Raqqa state hospital and the use of banned white phosphorus by the aircraft of the global coalition are a blatant violation of worldwide law and is among a number of coalition's crimes against the innocent [civilians] in the provinces and cities of Syria", the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia (SDF) began a campaign to capture Raqqa from IS previous year, slowly encircling the city before breaking into it for the first time in June.

In particular, McGurk said, the campaign has benefited from Trump's decision to hand control over to his generals. The Obama administration laid the groundwork for both campaigns in Mosul and Raqqa but McGurk's assessment is that his successor's strategy is pushing the battle across the line.

The Syria Democratic Forces - an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters - have seized up to 45 percent of Raqqa since launching an offensive in early June to recapture the Islamic State group's Syria stronghold.

There is some way to go, however, with ISIS moving much of its assets to the Euphrates River Valley in eastern Syria, according to US intelligence, and the borderlands that split Iraq and Syria. They have accused the coalition of using munitions loaded with white phosphorus in densely-populated areas and have criticized its strikes in areas where civilians are prominent. The coalition investigated the incident and concluded that ISIS had placed booby traps in the building that maximized the damage on impact.

On Saturday, Syrian state news agency Sana reported citing the deputy head of the local brach of the Red Crescent. that the US-led coalition allegedly struck a Raqqa hospital used exclusively by civilians with banned phosphorus bombs. No terrorists were reported to have been present in the hospital at the time of the air strike.

Mr. McGurk said "we estimate there are about 2,000 ISIS fighters left in Raqqa, and they will most likely die in Raqqa", he said.

"They're trying to put suicide bombers in columns of displaced people as they try to get out - the similar tactics we've seen from this barbaric terrorist organisation in other cities".

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