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30 Jul, 2017 21:50

Slain journalist’s last report for RT: Raqqa refugees blame coalition for bombing schools, hospitals

In his last news story for RT Arabic, journalist Khaled Alkhateb talked to refugees from Raqqa who spoke about the death and destruction caused by coalition strikes. The 25-year-old was killed Sunday in a shelling offensive by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.

"The coalition bombed schools and civilians. That’s why our children do not go to schools now. Many civilians were hurt, as it [coalition] hit both schools and hospitals," Abu Amdjad told Alkhateb, who worked with RT Arabic last week.

The man was among many other civilians who had been forced to flee Raqqa. In their home town, not a single government building was left unscathed from the coalition airstrikes, people told the reporter, saying that the US-led coalition bombed every building, claiming that IS terrorists were hiding there.

Alkhateb reported from the Syrian city of Hama.

A fourth grader told the journalist that the coalition forces bombed his school and "deprived us of the opportunity to study."

"There were refugees from Aleppo and other areas inside the school during the raids. Many of them died as a result of these airstrikes," the boy said.

People from small villages in the Raqqa region also shared their suffering with Alkhateb, claiming the coalition strikes had destroyed their homes, water supplies and "burnt down hundreds of hectares of land." Locals lost all their crops, they lamented.

Another Raqqa resident said the coalition used white phosphorus in several districts. In June, Amnesty International warned the US-led coalition against the use of white phosphorus near civilians which is against international law.

"It is obvious that all the sides who are responsible for deploying aviation, including the international coalition, all those who give orders, should very well think of the consequences of their actions. For the civilians not to be killed or forced to flee, and all the civilian infrastructure not to be destroyed," Alkhateb said in his last report for RT Arabic.

On Sunday, the journalist was killed in a rocket attack by IS militants in Homs province. He died while filming a report on the Syrian Army's operations against IS terrorists. His cameraman, Muutaz Yaqoub, was injured in the shelling. Several Syrian soldiers were also killed and injured in the attack.

The same day, at least six civilians were reportedly killed and 10 others injured in the US-led international coalition bombing of the city of Abu Kamal in the Syrian governorate of Deir ez-Zor, Syria's SANA news agency reported. Women and children are reportedly among the dead, SANA said citing local sources, also claiming that the airstrikes caused serious damage to civilian infrastructure.

Last week, while demanding that the American-led coalition strikes stop, Damascus told the UN that it wants the US and its allies to pay for the destruction of Syrian infrastructure and to bear legal responsibility for "illegitimately" bombing civilian targets.

The ongoing US-led anti-terrorist airstrikes "continue to claim the lives of hundreds of innocent Syrian civilians," the Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations said in letters addressed to the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council.