All Sides in Syria Must Protect Civilians, Amnesty Warns

All Sides in Syria Must Protect Civilians, Amnesty Warns

All Sides in Syria Must Protect Civilians, Amnesty Warns

Amnesty also documented allegations that Syrian government forces had dropped unguided munitions and cluster bombs close to villages and displacement camps south of the Euphrates River.

"Violations by [ISIL] do not lessen the worldwide legal obligations of other warring parties to protect civilians", Amnesty's Rovera said.

'Things will only get more unsafe as the battle reaches its final stages in the city centre.

A "deadly labyrinth" trapping civilians who are coming under fire from all sides, is how Amnesty International describes the streets of Raqqa in Syria.

Coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Russian-backed Syrian army now share a roughly 140 kilometre-long flank south of Raqqa where "de-confliction procedures are serving us very well", said Jones.

Both Mattis and the commander of the USA -led coalition to defeat ISIS, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, pointed to the tendency of the Sunni jihadists to use civilians as human shields, as the battle to dislodge the group from its Syrian "capital" continues into its third month.

The plight of civilians left in the city has worsened, with water cut off for over two months and shortages of food, leaving many of those remaining living on canned foods.

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The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a United Nations mandate. "This includes selecting lawful targets, avoiding indiscriminate or disproportionate strikes, and taking all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians".

She said most of civilian casualties from the US -led coalition were because the ammunition being used was not precise enough and had wide-impact radii.

"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. In June, the US military shot down a Syrian fighter aircraft, as well as two Iranian-made drones that threatened USA -led coalition forces.

The UN estimates that up to 25,000 civilians may remain in the city with tens of thousands of others have already fled, risking ISIL sniper fire and mines.

"That said, an enemy that literally hides behind women and children or forces innocent people to stay in an area that they intend to turn into a battle ground are clearly showing who are the people violating every standard of decency", he said.

Townsend challenged the notion that civilian casualties had increased "to some significant degree", while conceding that because operations have increased in intensity "it's probably logical to assume that there has been some increase in the civilian casualties".

One Daraiya resident said: "It was hell, many shells struck the area". It was indescribable, it was like the end of the world - the noise, people screaming.

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