It has been revealed that the bombing campaign against Raqqa in Syria by American led forces resulted in the deaths of over 1600 civilians and the destruction of 11,000 buildings. The shocking figures coming from a new report by Amnesty International.
In an “unprecedented” investigation, Amnesty has revealed that air strikes by American, British and French forces led to the direct loss of 1,600 lives in just four months between June and October of 2017. Amnesty accuses the US-led coalition of “inaccurate” and “indiscriminate” bombing.
“Thousands of civilians were killed or injured in the US-led Coalition’s offensive to rid Raqqa of IS, whose snipers and mines had turned the city into a death trap. Many of the air bombardments were inaccurate and tens of thousands of artillery strikes were indiscriminate, so it is no surprise they killed and injured many hundreds of civilians.”Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International
At the start of the bombing campaign, ISIS was still in command of the city and had themselves engaged in shocking levels of criminality that are without doubt crimes against humanity, however, the US, British and French response was, now, without question equally criminal, Amnesty stating that “coalition forces razed Raqqa” to the ground.
The British, French and American governments have already rejected the numbers mentioned in the new study, recognising the death toll at an absurdist figure of 159. Amnesty have meanwhile built a database of over 1,600 civilian victims and “have gathered names for more than 1,000” of those individuals, directly verifying 641 of them and having strong multiple source reports for the rest.
“One US military official boasted about firing 30,000 artillery rounds during the campaign – the equivalent of a strike every six minutes, for four months straight – surpassing the amount of artillery used in any conflict since the Vietnam war.”Amnesty International
In just one hideous example highlighted by Amnesty, an airstrike on a five-story building in the Harat al-Badu neighbourhood on September 25, 2017, resulted in the death of 32 civilians, including 20 children. A week later a nearby building was struck killing 27 more civilians.
“I saw my son die, burnt in the rubble in front of me. I’ve lost everyone who was dear to me. My four children, my husband, my mother, my sister, my whole family. Wasn’t the goal to free the civilians? They were supposed to save us, to save our children.”Ayat Mohammed Jasem.
Amnesty is “urging US-led Coalition members to put in place an independent, impartial mechanism to effectively and promptly investigate reports of civilian harm, including violations of international humanitarian law, and make the findings public.”
Many of the cases highlighted by the new Amnesty report unquestionably are violations of international law and there must be a full investigation into what can only be described as a horrific breach of the norms and laws of warfare. The US, UK and France must immediately begin investigations into the allegations and, where the law has been broken, there must be accountability for this further stain on the reputation of western forces.