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Amnesty International (AI) found evidence that the air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition against the self-styled Islamic State (IS) in Raqqa, Syria, incurred “potential war crimes”.
The organization defending human rights published a report on Tuesday in which it denounces that in the process of liberation of the city, which was controlled by EI, the forces led by the United States killed “hundreds of civilians”.
To prepare the report “‘War of annihilation’: Devastating ravages in the civilian population of Raqqa”, the NGO spent two weeks in the city, visited 42 places that were in ruins after the attacks and interviewed 112 witnesses .
The air strikes in Raqqa, the capital of what the Islamic State declared its caliphate in 2014, began on June 6 last year.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the coalition, took control of the city, located in northern Syria, in October.
“The civilians in Raqqa have suffered badly at the hands of EI, but they have also been endangered by the disproportionate airstrikes of the coalition,” said Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International.
According to Allen, the more than 200 attacks “killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians .”
The spokesman for the coalition, US Army Colonel Sean Ryan, said Allen should “leave the comforts of the United Kingdom” (where AI’s headquarters are located) and see that the forces are “fighting an enemy that does not he obeys laws, norms (nor does he have) human concern. “
The military said that “rigorous efforts and intelligence gathering are made” before any attack to “effectively destroy IS while minimizing damage to civilian populations.”
The colonel also noted that the IS militants used non-combatants as shields “to sadistically claim that the coalition had killed civilians.”
The non-governmental organization claims that its investigation offers “convincing evidence that many coalition attacks that killed and wounded civilians and destroyed homes and infrastructure violated international humanitarian law .”
“When so great is the number of civilians killed in one attack after another, it is clear that there is something wrong . And to get even worse tragedy, it took many months and have not yet investigated the incident. The victims deserve justice” said Donatella Rovera, AI’s general advisor on crisis response.
“The coalition’s claim that its precision air campaign allowed it to bomb Islamic State to expel it from Raqqa causing very few civilian casualties is unsustainable.” In the course of our field research in Raqqa we saw a degree of destruction that was not it can compare with nothing that we have found in decades of work to verify the effects of wars, “said Rovera.
The strategy of annihilation
On May 28, 2017, in an interview with the US chain CBS, the US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, indicated that the mission of the coalition had to be “annihilating” EI.
“Our strategy is to accelerate the campaign against EI,” he said. “It is a threat to all civilized nations.”
According to the US Department of Defense, the campaign against the radical group in Iraq and Syria had gone from ” attrition tactics to annihilation tactics .”
“Our intention is for foreign fighters not to survive the war so that they can not return to their homes in North Africa, Europe, the United States, Asia, Africa,” Mattis said.
“We’re not going to let them do it, we’re going to stop there and disintegrate the caliphate,” he said.