United Nations urges pause in Syria fighting as humanitarian crisis mounts

25 August, 2017, 01:42 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Islamic State carried out public killings at the clock tower square in Raqqa

The Ministry said that warplanes of the alleged coalition continued to target Syrian civilians and destroy infrastructure, in addition to the use of internationally- banned white phosphorus bombs which constitutes a flagrant violation of the rules of the UN Charter and the global law.

"But violations by IS do not lessen the worldwide legal obligations of other warring parties to protect civilians".

"Those besieged in Raqqa face horrific brutality at the hands of IS - of that there is no doubt", said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty senior crisis response adviser, who led the investigation leading to the report.

A "deadly labyrinth" trapping civilians who are coming under fire from all sides, is how Amnesty International describes the streets of Raqqa in Syria.

The battle for Raqqa is being waged by the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance comprising Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen factions, with the coalition providing air support.

"IS members embed themselves within the civilian population, use civilians as human shields and prevent them from leaving the areas under their control - including by mining or booby-trapping exit routes, shooting at those trying to flee, and using civilians as cover for suicide bombers and auto bombs to target SDF and coalition forces".

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The SDF is believed to have captured more than half the city.

The coalition earlier this month acknowledged the deaths of 624 civilians in its attacks in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

"We are the good guys and the innocent people on the battlefield know the difference", US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday.

It claimed the video was shot in Raqqa on Monday and showed victims of coalition air strikes, as well as extensive damage to residential areas.

"Boats on the Euphrates must not be attacked, people who come out can not risk air raids when they come out", Jan Egeland, humanitarian adviser on Syria, told reporters in Geneva.

The UN estimates that up to 25,000 civilians may remain in the city with tens of thousands of others have already fled, risking ISIL sniper fire and mines.

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"The Russians have been nothing but professional, cordial and disciplined", Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the Iraq-based commander of the USA -led coalition, told Reuters.

The situation in Raqqa, Syria is getting worse, with basic services "at all-time low" and thousands of civilians unable to get out of the besieged terrorist stronghold, the United Nations says, urging the US-led coalition to halt the bombing to allow people to escape.

In Baghdad, Lt Gen Townsend said it was "probably logical to assume that there has been some increase in the civilian casualties" because coalition operations had intensified.

More than 270,000 people have fled the city since the coalition offensive began, and many of them are stuck in ramshackle camps in the Syrian desert.

"The shells struck one house after another", Amnesty quoted her as saying.

"It was indescribable, it was like the end of the world", a witness told the rights group.

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