The US-led coalition’s bombing campaign is responsible for most civilian deaths inside ISIS-controlled Raqqa, told a local journalist, providing a rare look inside the devastated city, where the UN says residents are paying an “unacceptable” price.
SDF militants, supported by the US-led coalition, launched the offensive in Raqqa province in November last year. In June, the fighting progressed towards the Islamic State-besieged city, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed terrorist caliphate.
According to UN estimates made public Wednesday, around 25,000 civilians are still trapped in Raqqa, and are being slaughtered in the crossfire between the sides in the ongoing battle. The UN estimates that some 27 civilians are killed in Raqqa daily.
However and despite the presence of the around 1,000-strong ISIS (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) force in the city, it is the US-led bombing campaign which is mostly responsible for the civilian death toll there, local media activist Musa al Khalafa told RT.
“What is happening now in Raqqa is destruction not liberation at all,” Khalafa noted. “More than 2,000 people have been killed as results of the US led coalition bombing and the SDF shelling of civilians in Raqqa.”
While the numbers are hard to verify, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said his office had managed to confirm reports of 151 civilian deaths from just six aerial or ground operations during August alone.
“Given the extremely high number of reports of civilian casualties this month and the intensity of the air strikes on Raqqa, coupled with ISIL’s use of civilians as human shields, I am deeply concerned that civilians – who should be protected at all times – are paying an unacceptable price and that forces involved in battling ISIL are losing sight of the ultimate goal of this battle,” Zeid said in a statement Thursday.