wnol.info May 20 2018

"Staggering" civilian deaths from US-led air strikes in Raqqa Syria

May 20 2018, 05:29 | Irvin Gilbert

Syrian Arab Army continues the offensive from eastern Homs to the city of Deir ez-Zor

Syrian Arab Army continues the offensive from eastern Homs to the city of Deir ez-Zor

Western-backed forces have reached the outskirts of Raqqa's old city, Islamic State's main stronghold in Syria, where several European terrorist plots are believed to have been hatched.

As U.S. -backed forces press farther into Raqqa, the Islamic State's stronghold in Syria, human rights groups pleaded Tuesday for the safety of thousands of residents still trapped in the city, The Washington Post reports in its article On Syria fronts, U.S. -backed forces probe Raqqa defenses as Iran-allied fighters gain key foothold.

US, UK and even Russian missiles are hitting Islamic State targets in #Raqqa supporting an anti-IS fighting group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces made up of Arabs and Kurds. Those who do escape risk unexploded ordnance en route, and the threat of being mistaken for fleeing Daesh fighters by SDF forces or the US-led coalition.

Pinheiro, speaking earlier to the U.N. Human Rights Council, said that there had been a "staggering loss of civilian life" due to coalition air strikes that had forced 160,000 civilians to flee their homes.

"Coalition members and local forces should demonstrate concretely that the lives and rights of the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Raqa are a parallel priority in the offensive".

In a video released through its Aamaq news agency, ISIS said the us -led coalition used white phosphorous over Raqqa last Thursday at dusk, when Muslims would have been breaking their Ramadan fasts.

White phosphorous can be used in war to create illumination or smoke screens that obstruct an enemy's view of the battlefield and act as cover for allies.

UNICEF said in a statement that the violence has resulted in massive displacement in and around the city, with some 80,000 children internally displaced and living in temporary shelters and camps.

A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also said the Syrian army had advanced in that area.

While worldwide law permits the use of white phosphorus in order to cover troop movements, HRW in a statement said the chemical's use in crowded cities like Raqqa "poses a high risk of horrific and long lasting harm". "US-led forces should take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm when using white phosphorus in Iraq and Syria".

U.S. diplomat Jason Mack called the Syrian government "the primary perpetrator" of egregious human rights violations in the country.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross's Middle East division, Robert Mardini, meanwhile told reporters Wednesday that the organisation's decision to help facilitate the evacuation of civilians was a "tough" call. "There is supply but it's very, very limited and the needs of the population are very high", said Puk Leenders, emergency coordinator for northern Syria for the group Doctors Without Borders (MSF). USA - and Iran-backed forces have been jostling for position ahead of an offensive to capture Deir al-Zour and further their own regional ambitions in the process.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on Thursday that the assault was intensifying an "already desperate" situation in Raqqa.

Kuwait says Qatar is 'willing' to hold dialogue
It was a move harshly criticized as unnecessary by the worldwide community and Amnesty global , citing humanitarian reasons. The new flights have increased Iranian air traffic by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.

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