U.S. and Russian Federation commanders exchange '10-12 calls' a day on Syria

Geneva Matthews
August 25, 2017

The rights group documents 176 cases of civilians killed in and around Raqqa in June and July, saying they constitute "a small sample of a much wider pattern".

Thousands of people have been trapped inside the city by ISIS and are being subjected to indiscriminate artillery and mortar bombardment by US-backed coalition forces and airstrikes with banned cluster bombs by Russian-backed government forces, the report says.

The civilians trapped in the city have virtually no access to basic services, including safe water and food, and are surviving on food they stored up earlier, David Swanson, public information officer from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told RT.

"As the battle to wrest Raqqa from Islamic State intensifies, thousands of civilians are trapped in a deadly labyrinth where they are under fire from all sides", Amnesty Senior Crisis Response Adviser Donatella Rovera said, referring to another name used for ISIL.

But the USA -led coalition, alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian regime, supported by Russian warplanes, have been responsible for many causalities in the "deadly labyrinth" of being fired upon from all sides in the city, Amnesty International said in a report issued Thursday.

It is unknown how many civilians remain trapped inside al-Raqqa, with United Nations estimates ranging from 10,000 to 50,000.

The bombing raids are being carried out in support of a Kurdish-led ground militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, that is fighting house to house as the Islamic State unleashes auto bombs, drone strikes and other attacks.

The SDF is believed to have captured more than half the city.

Airwars, an independent monitor that tracks casualties and US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, now estimates that a minimum of 5,000 civilians have likely been killed by coalition actions in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

In addition to the air strikes, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance is shelling targets in the city from the ground.

It's not known exactly how many civilians remain trapped in Raqqa and other ISIS-controlled areas around the city. "We are now at the clock tower roundabout, and our guys are fighting in Mansur Street", he says.

"The shells struck one house after another", Amnesty quoted her as saying.

"I have seen the reports of increased civilian casualties, and it is probably logical to assume that there have been some increases in civilian casualties because our operations have increased in intensity there", Townsendsaid at a news conference Tuesday in Baghdad.

"On Raqqa, our urging today from the UN side to the members of the Humanitarian Task Force, including the members of the Coalition that is helping retake Raqqa, is that they need to do whatever is possible to make it possible for people to escape Raqqa", Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, said at a press briefing in Geneva on Thursday.

"It was indescribable, it was like the end of the world", a witness told the rights group.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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