By Ali Murat Alhas
ANKARA (AA) – The U.S.-led coalition in Syria killed more than 1,600 civilians in the city of Raqqa during its military campaign against the Daesh terror group in 2017, Amnesty International and a watchdog group said Thursday.
An interactive website developed by the human rights group and Airwars, a London-based group that monitors the impact of the U.S.-led campaign against Daesh, urged the U.S.-led coalition to take responsibility for the killing of large numbers of civilians who were trapped between Daesh snipers and landmines and coalition attacks.
The website, called "Rhetoric Versus Reality: How the Most Precise Air Campaign In History Left Raqqa The Most Destroyed City In Modern Times," said that between June and October 2017, the coalition launched thousands of air and artillery strikes to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are closely affiliated with the YPG/PKK terror group.
Stressing that the coalition claimed to have taken all necessary measures to spare civilians, the website said this rhetoric was "a far cry from reality", as it did not coincide with the facts on the ground for the civilians who were slaughtered during the military campaign.
According to the website, the coalition conducted indiscriminate strikes in residential neighborhoods of the city, whereas former U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis defined the anti-Daesh alliance as "good guys" who took many chances to avoid civilian casualties "at all costs".
The website pointed out that the coalition strikes led to the decimation of entire families, referring to one tragic incident where four families sheltering in the basement of a five-story building were hit by airstrikes, leaving at least 32 dead, including 20 children.
"I've lost everyone who was dear to me. My four children, my husband, my mother, my sister, my whole family," said Ayat Mohammed Jasem, a survivor of the airstrike.
The website stated that the coalition admitted killing 159 civilians in Raqqa – barely 10% of the real number, noting it must take responsibility for the deaths of all civilians.
Amnesty and Airwars urged the coalition to make public all relevant information, set up an independent and impartial mechanism to investigate the matter and create a fund to help the families of the deceased.