Amnesty International calls for allowing safe corridor for civilians to leave Syria’s Raqqa

FILE – Syrian Democratic Forces fighters hold up their weapons in the north of Raqqa city

Amnesty International said on Thursday a U.S.-led coalition campaign to oust Islamic State from Syria’s Raqqa had killed hundreds of civilians, and those remaining face greater risk as the fight intensifies in its final stages.

The rights group also said Russia-backed Syrian government forces had carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians, reported to have included cluster and barrel bombs, in a separate campaign against the militants south of Raqqa city.
“Civilians are … trapped in the city, under fire from all sides,” Amnesty said in a report.

It said the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes Arab and Kurdish militias, must take more care as they battle for the city’s central districts.

“It is imperative that all the parties to the conflict take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians, including ending the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated civilian areas, in compliance with the prohibition on indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks.”

Islamic State (IS), which took over Raqqa and its environs in 2014, uses civilians inside the northern Syrian city as human shields and targets those trying to escape with snipers and mines, Amnesty said.

“IS wouldn’t let us leave. We had no food, no electricity,” a former Raqqa resident told Amnesty, one of 98 displaced individuals it spoke to in northern Syria.

(Source: Reuters)

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