‘US coalition bombs randomly, hitting civilians rather than ISIS’ – Raqqa refugees to RT
Civilian casualties from the US-supported operation to retake Raqqa are mounting daily, while those fortunate enough to survive and flee the ISIS-held city have accused the American-led coalition of “haphazard” bombardment allied to the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus.
Strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in and around Syria’s Raqqa province have been ongoing since November. On Wednesday alone, US-coalition forces conducted 14 strikes against IS “tactical units” in the area. But while the American-led coalition insists that it is targeting terrorist positions, civilians routinely end up dead or wounded.
The US-led alliance is “haphazardly bombing everyone” in Raqqa, a woman who was brought into a hospital in Qamishli, a city in northeastern Syria, told RT’s Ruptly video agency.
“If you are sitting at home [a bomb] may fall on you. There are houses that collapsed over their residents and they could not get out, all this happened because of the airstrikes,” she said describing the situation in Raqqa.
Those who fled Raqqa questioned the US-led bombing campaign’s intensity and overall siege strategy, claiming that more than half of the terrorist have openly fled the city. The survivors are especially concerned about the use of white phosphorus.
“The aircraft bomb using phosphoric [bombs]. It strikes haphazardly targeting everyone, it is not hitting ISIS. ISIS is gone, but [the coalition] is bombing randomly,” the woman who spoke with Ruptly said.
“You see that your enemy [ISIS] is planting landmines, why are you using the aircraft? You can film here and see that no one is there, so why are you bombing? The people are dying for nothing and no one is helping them,” she added.
White phosphorus is an incendiary weapon which burns when it comes into contact with oxygen, producing high-temperature heat and its characteristic white smoke. Despite the high casualty rate resulting from such bombs, its use is not explicitly banned by international law if it’s used against combat targets outside civilian areas.
Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch condemned the use of white phosphorus bombs by the US-led coalition as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.
“No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul and any other areas with concentrations of civilians,”said Steve Goose, arms director at HRW.
Apart from the constant bombardment, another major obstacle facing the civilian exodus from the city is the mine-laden streets, a common, yet brutal tactic used by jihadists to ensure maximum civilian casualties and a cover for their own retreat.
US-led coalition downs Syrian army plane in southern Raqqa, pilot is missing https://t.co/BzC1eh2uzf— RT (@RT_com) 19 June 2017
“They used to put [keep-away minefield] signs, now [ISIS] plant mines during the night. No one sees them, then people go out and walk and mines explode on them. You can’t even walk out of your house,” said a boy, still in shock from what he has witnessed in Raqqa.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply alarmed” at the “depths of human suffering” in Syria.
“Civilians continue to be killed, injured and displaced at a terrifying rate. I am also alarmed that places of refuge, such as hospitals and schools continue to be targeted,” Guterres said, adding, that he is particularly concerned about “the perilous situation for civilians in Raqqa.”
Washington has been backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a multi-ethnic, but predominantly Kurdish alliance of forces in an offensive known as Operation Euphrates Rage. Launched in November last year, the campaign aimed to encircle and retake Raqqa.
The ongoing siege on the terrorist stronghold has been marred by at least 300 civilian fatalities and the displacement of some 160,000 people, a UN commission said last week.