Human Rights Watch stressed the need to make protecting civilians and respect for human rights a priority in the offensive to retake Raqqa from the ISIS extremist group as civilians have been reportedly killed in bombardment on the city.
Key human rights priorities for anti-ISIS forces should include the provision of safe passage to fleeing civilians; the provision of sufficient support to displaced people; and increasing efforts to survey and clear landmines and explosive remnants of war, HRW said on Tuesday.
“The battle for Raqqa is not just about defeating ISIS, but also about protecting and assisting the civilians who have suffered under ISIS rule for three and a half years,” said Lama Fakih, HRW Deputy Middle East Director.
“Coalition members and local forces should demonstrate concretely that the lives and rights of the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Raqqa are a parallel priority in the offensive,” Fakih added.
HRW pointed out that it has documented several missile and aerial attacks that caused civilian casualties and were carried out by US-led coalition forces in Syria since they began operations there in September 2014. Rising civilian casualties from US-led coalition strikes has heightened concerns about whether adequate precautions are in place, HRW stressed. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)