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UN Probes Claims US Coalition Raqqa Strikes Resulted in Massive Civilian Losses

© REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra/File PhotoSmoke rises after an air strike during fighting between members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria August 15, 2017
Smoke rises after an air strike during fighting between members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria August 15, 2017 - Sputnik International
Numerous media reports have suggested that the US-led coalition's operation to free the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh, launched in November 2016, has caused mass civilian casualties, sparking the United Nations to launch a probe into the allegations.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has released a report concerning the US-led operation in Raqqa. 

"Investigations are ongoing into allegations that international coalition airstrikes, carried out as part of the on-going offensive to repel ISIL [Daesh] from ar-Raqqah [Raqqa], have resulted – and continue to result — in increasingly alarming numbers of civilians casualties. The Commission is gravely concerned that this offensive has led to the internal displacement of some 190,000 persons, with the fate of some 20,000 others precarious as they remain trapped in ar-Raqqah city, many of them civilians that ISIL reportedly forced to concentrate in areas under its control," the UN said.

The Syrian state media and Damascus have repeatedly accused the coalition of killing civilians in Raqqa as a result of the bombing. The Syrian Foreign Ministry urged the UN to condemn the coalition over alleged civilian casualties amid the operation in Syria, which is not approved by both the UN and the Syrian legitimate authorities.

Anti-ISIL airstrikes - Sputnik International
After Bombing Raqqa Hospital, Coalition Airstrikes Reportedly Kill 43 Civilians
According to the coalition's statements and reports by local media and international watchdogs, its aerial operation in Syria has resulted in casualties among civilians. The coalition admitted that its strikes against Daesh in Syria and Iraq had left at least 624 civilians dead since the start of the anti-terrorist campaign, according to the latest update. However, several NGOs suggested that the actual death toll in the strikes could be even higher.

The Raqqa operation supported by the US-led coalition is conducted on the ground by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) opposition fighters. According to the UN and watchdogs, civilians in Raqqa are increasingly facing deadly risks as the bombardment by forces seeking to liberate the city from Daesh terror group has intensified as the operation nears its end. As of today about 20,000 innocent civilians remain trapped in the besieged city, many of whom are looking for any opportunity to flee the warzone.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said last Friday that Raqqa may be liberated by the end of October.

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