Led coalition committed 'war crimes' in Syria

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GettyCivilians in Raqqa have suffered grievously at the hands of ISIS

There is strong prima facie evidence that Coalition air and artillery strikes killed and injured thousands of civilians, including in disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks that violated worldwide humanitarian law and are potential war crimes.

Commenting on the reports about the consequences of the US-led offensive on the Syrian city of Raqqa between June and October previous year, Russian Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Artyom Kozhin told the RT broadcaster on Wednesday that the campaign destroyed rather than liberated the city.

The report documented the cases of four families whose experiences it said were emblematic of wider patterns and provided "prima facie evidence that several coalition attacks which killed and injured civilians violated worldwide humanitarian law". The group detailed attacks on the Aswad family, which lost eight family members in a single airstrike; the Badran family, which lost 39 members; the Hashish family, which lost 18 members; and the Fayad family, which lost 16 members. "And to make this tragedy worse, so many months later the incidents have not been investigated".

Rovera added that the level of devastation and destruction in Raqqa is worse than anything they have seen in decades, quoting a senior USA military officer as saying that "more artillery shells were launched into Raqqa than anywhere since the end of the Vietnam war".

"There is strong evidence that Coalition air and artillery strikes killed and injured thousands of civilians, including in disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks that violated global humanitarian law and are potential war crimes", the human rights organization wrote in a summary of its report.

Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, said that IS's rule of the city had been "rife with war crimes".

"We were naive. By the time we had realised how risky it had become everywhere, it was too late". So, if buildings after buildings were destroyed, with entire families inside, something must have gone wrong.

The victims, including tiny one-year-old Tulip, deserve justice. Another family member lost his life when he stepped on an ISIS mine when he returned to the city to try to recover the bodies days later. A Coalition air strike killed nine, seven died as they tried to flee via a road which had been mined by ISIS, and two others were killed by a mortar launched by SDF.

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"What leveled the city and killed and injured so many civilians was the US-led coalition's repeated use of explosive weapons in populated areas where they knew civilians were trapped".

It illustrates the cases of four civilian families who, between them, lost 90 relatives and neighbors, including 39 from one family alone.

The Aswads were a family of traders who had toiled hard all their lives to build a home in Raqqa.

Amnesty International released a report that accused the US military of causing widespread civilian deaths over the four-month campaign to retake control of the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, even though military leaders presented the operation as the product of precise and careful targeting.

According to the Ministry of Defence, UK forces carried out 215 airstrikes in Raqqa.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the formal name for the coalition, acknowledged last November that its airstrikes and artillery had killed more than 800 civilians in Iraq and Syria since the operation began in 2014.

Amnesty International's recommendations include forbidding the use of wide-area munitions in areas where civilians could be present, assuming civilians are present in every urban warfare operation against enemies prone to using human shields, giving advance warning of airstrikes, and calling off any attack that risks collateral damage to civilians. For example, has the United Kingdom carried out on-the-ground investigations at the sites it bombed and interviewed survivors and witnesses?

Earlier on Tuesday, local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria's official news agency SANA that US-led aerial attacks had targeted al-Jazaa village in Hasakah province, leaving ten people dead.

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