Liberation of Raqqa

More Than 1,600 Civilians Killed In Raqqa Coalition Air Strikes, New Report Claims

Amnesty International and monitoring group Airwars say their joint investigation identified more than 1,000 victims.

Liberation of Raqqa

Damage to the Syrian city of Raqqa (Picture: PA).

More than 1,600 civilians were killed as a result of US-led coalition air strikes against so-called Islamic State (IS) on the Syrian city of Raqqa, according to claims in a new report.

IS lost its last pocket of territory in the country last month after military action by the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the US-led coalition.

As part of Operation Inherent Resolve the US, France and the UK carried out almost daily air strikes in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria.

Amnesty International and monitoring group Airwars said their joint investigation looked at 200 strike locations in the city, interviewing more than 400 witnesses and survivors and identifying 1,000 victims.

Donatella Rovera, from Amnesty, said: "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.

The report said many of the cases "are likely to amount to violations of international humanitarian law".

Typhoon on Operation Shader (Picture: MOD).
RAF Typhoons have been used on Operation Shader (Picture: MOD).

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said: "Sadly, no military action can be wholly without risk - we do everything possible to mitigate those risks, but cannot eliminate them entirely.

"Global coalition air strikes have successfully contributed to the liberation of all the territory once held by Daesh, who imposed unspeakable suffering on millions of people."

The MOD spokesman added: "After every UK air strike we conduct a thorough battle damage assessment, which uses all available information to examine the outcome of the strike, and also looks very carefully at whether there is any evidence of civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure."

Previously Operation Inherent Resolve has said that at least 1,257 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes in both Iraq and Syria since the start of the campaign in August 2014.

By February this year, the coalition had conducted 34,038 strikes.

US Air Force F-22 Raptor over Iraq during Op Inherent Resolve
A US Air Force F-22 Raptor over Iraq during Operation Inherent Resolve (Picture: USAF).

A spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve told Forces News: "We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and we conduct a thorough assessment of all allegations.

"Any unintentional loss of life during the defeat of Daesh is tragic.

"However, it must be balanced against the risk of enabling Daesh to continue terrorist activities, causing pain and suffering to anyone they choose.

"We are willing to work with anyone making allegations or providing new, credible information.

"We continue to be open and transparent about our strikes and civilian casualty reports."

February 2018 Syria Baghouz Credit PA 070319
IS were declared defeated in Syria after weeks of fighting in the village of Baghouz (Picture: PA).

Between June and October 2017, almost 80% of Raqqa was left uninhabitable during the offensive to take the city from IS, Amnesty added.

In 2018, the MOD admitted one civilian had been killed by an RAF airstrike in Syria.