United States-led air strikes in Syria causing 'staggering loss of civilian life,' says United Nations

Intensified coalition air strikes supporting an assault by US-backed forces on Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa in Syria are causing a 'staggering loss of civilian life', United Nations war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.

Reuters June 14, 2017 19:45:46 IST
United States-led air strikes in Syria causing 'staggering loss of civilian life,' says United Nations

Geneva: Intensified coalition air strikes supporting an assault by US-backed forces on Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa in Syria are causing a "staggering loss of civilian life", United Nations war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a US-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa a week ago to take it from the jihadists. The SDF, supported by heavy coalition air strikes, have taken territory to the west, east and north of the city.

United Statesled air strikes in Syria causing staggering loss of civilian life says United Nations

Representational image. AP

"We note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, 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," Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry told the Human Rights Council.

Pinheiro provided no figure for civilian casualties in Raqqa, where rival forces are racing to capture ground from Islamic State. The Syrian army is also advancing on the desert area west of the city.

Separately, Human Rights Watch expressed concern in a statement about the use of incendiary white phosphorous weapons by the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, saying it endangered civilians when used in populated areas.

In its speech to the 47-member forum in Geneva, the US delegation made no reference to Raqqa or the air strikes. US diplomat Jason Mack called the Syrian government "the primary perpetrator" of egregious human rights violations in the country.

Pinheiro said that if the international coalition's offensive is successful, it could liberate Raqqa's civilian population, including Yazidi women and girls, "whom the group has kept sexually enslaved for almost three years as part of an ongoing and unaddressed genocide".

"The imperative to fight terrorism must not, however, be undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where IS is present," he added.

Pinheiro also said that ten agreements between the Syrian government and armed groups to evacuate fighters and civilians from besieged areas, including eastern Aleppo last December, "in some cases amount to war crimes" as civilians had "no choice".

Syria's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Hussam Edin Aaala, denounced violations "committed by the unlawful US-led coalition which targets infrastructure, killing hundreds of civilians including the deaths of 30 civilians in Deir al-Zor."

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Climate change will pose greater threat to human lives than COVID-19: Red Cross
World

Climate change will pose greater threat to human lives than COVID-19: Red Cross

The World Disaster Report rated climate change as the greatest global challenge, finding disasters triggered by climate-related events had risen 35% since 1990s

'Full-scale humanitarian crisis unfolding' in Ethiopia, says UN as thousands flee conflict-torn Tigray region
World

'Full-scale humanitarian crisis unfolding' in Ethiopia, says UN as thousands flee conflict-torn Tigray region

Recent fighting has left hundreds dead, although a communications blackout in Tigray has made it difficult to assess how the fighting is going

World Toilet Day 2020: India strengthened resolve for #Toilet4All, tweets Narendra Modi
India

World Toilet Day 2020: India strengthened resolve for #Toilet4All, tweets Narendra Modi

Celebrated on 19 November every year, World Toilet Day attempts to create awareness of the 4.2 billion people around the world without access to proper sanitation