Amnesty International criticized the US-led campaign for artillery and air strikes on areas in Raqqa containing civilians, saying that the attacks a had killed hundreds of civilians while those remaining face greater risk as the fight intensifies in its final stages.
In a report released on Thursday, the rights group asked for an end to attacks that risk being indiscriminate and disproportionate.
According to the report, the Russia-backed Assad regime forces had also carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians using cluster and barrel bombs in a separate campaign against ISISI militants south of Raqqa city.
Amnesty said residents had told it that air strikes had hit camps where people had fled the fighting. It added that the testimonials they collected suggested cluster bombs had been used in some of the attacks.
“It is imperative that all the parties to the conflict take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians, including ending the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated civilian areas,” Amnesty said.
ISIS, which took over Raqqa and its environs in 2014, uses civilians inside the city as human shields and targets those trying to escape with snipers and mines, Amnesty added.
It said the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) must take more care as they battle for the city’s central districts.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Coalition stressed that the fight against terrorism cannot be achieved by targeting civilians or by supporting other forms of terrorism.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Coalition said that a political solution cannot be reached unless the international community shows a firms stance towards the source of terrorism, namely the Assad regime which bears the primary responsibility for the spread of terrorism in Syria, the region and beyond.
Monitoring group Airwars told Reuters they believe between 725 and 993 civilians have likely been killed from coalition actions in Raqqa city since the offensive began in early June.
The United Nations earlier said that at least 200,000 people have fled Raqqa in recent months, and that up to 20,000 civilians remain trapped inside the ravaged city. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)