Syria: UK and US should “come clean” about civilian casualties in Raqqa campaign against Islamic State

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Amnesty International has called on the UK to “come clean” about its role in attacks on the Syrian city of Raqqa last year that killed hundreds of civilians.

The charity said it found evidence of “potential war crimes” committed by the US-led coalition in their campaign to retake the city from the Islamic State (IS).

Investigators from Amnesty spent two weeks in Raqqa, where they interviewed 112 witnesses and gathered evidence about how the campaign unfolded for the civilians stranded within the city.

The CJTF-OIR coalition, which pushed IS out of Iraq and continues to fight against the group in Syria, is made up of over 70 nations around the world. However, in the campaign to retake Raqqa, the heavy artillery bombardment and over 4,000 air strikes were almost all carried out by US forces, with the UK launching 215 air strikes and the French around 50.

Both the UK and US said civilian casualties were minimised during the campaign by a combination of on-the-ground and drone-gathered intelligence, but Amnesty director Kate Allen said the charity found evidence that the coalition strikes “killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians”.

Raqqa was the de facto capital of IS when air strikes began on 6 June 2017, and it was not until October that the Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the international coalition, retook the city.

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