Civilians in Syria are increasingly paying the price as counter-ISIS airstrikes escalate while ISIS cracks down on those in and around areas remaining under its control, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Friday.
The UN Human Rights chief urged “all states’ air forces operating in the country to take much greater care to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilians. All parties to the conflict must uphold their obligation to take every feasible measure to spare the civilian population from the effects of the armed conflict.”
“The same civilians who are suffering indiscriminate shelling and summary executions by ISIL, are also falling victim to the escalating airstrikes, particularly in the northeastern governorates of Al-Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor,” Zeid said in a statement, noting that his Office is receiving numerous credible and disturbing reports of such incidents.
“Unfortunately, scant attention is being paid by the outside world to the appalling predicament of the civilians trapped in these areas,” Zeid added, citing a number of the most recent incidents.
“We are also extremely concerned by reports of ISIL preventing civilians from leaving areas under their control, except to other ISIL-controlled areas,” Zeid said. “Preventing civilians from leaving ISIL-held areas runs contrary to international human rights law and –to international humanitarian law.”
On May 14, 23 farm workers, 17 of them women, were reportedly killed when airstrikes hit Al-Akershi village in a rural area of eastern Al-Raqqa Governorate. Airstrikes on two residential areas of the ISIL-controlled city of Albo Kamal in eastern Deir-ez-Zor Governorate the following day (15 May) reportedly killed at least 59 civilians including 16 children and 12 women and injured 70 more. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)