US-led anti-Isis campaign in Raqqa ‘failing to avoid civilian deaths’


Concerns are mounting over the civilian cost of the US-led coalition’s campaign to reclaim Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, with reports of airstrikes killing and wounding hundreds of Syrians.

The reports, which cannot be definitively confirmed but are considered reliable by UN officials, raise questions about the US commitment to protect civilians in the battle amid the reported loosening of the rules of engagement under President Donald Trump. “The coalition is not taking any precautions to avoid civilian casualties,” said Aghid al-Khodr, a senior editor at Sound and Picture, an organisation that maintains a network of clandestine correspondents in the Isis capital.

“The number of Daesh [Isis] fighters in the city does not exceed 500, but if they’re going to destroy a residential building and wipe out all the people in it every time they want to kill a Daesh fighter then they will be liberating the city from both Daesh and the residents,” he said. The battle to liberate Raqqa, the capital of the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed caliphate, began two months ago with incursions into the city by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a confederation dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Arab auxiliary militia. The campaign is backed by the US-led coalition, which arms the SDF and has launched hundreds of airstrikes in support of the ground forces. (theguardian)…[+]