A “deadly labyrinth” trapping civilians who are coming under fire from all sides, is how Amnesty International describes the streets of Raqqa in Syria.
The human rights group says that hundreds have been killed and injured as the battle to recapture the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s main stronghold reaches a decisive phase.
Its “new report|“https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde24/6945/2017/en/ , based on interviews with witnesses, blames ISIL booby traps and snipers, as well as the US-led coalition fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The report says the SDF, which includes Arab and Kurdish militias, must take more care as they battle for Raqqa’s central districts. Their offensive with coalition forces to recapture the city from ISIL control began on 6 June.
“Knowing that IS use civilians as human shields, SDF and US forces must redouble efforts to protect civilians, notably by avoiding disproportionate or indiscriminate strikes and creating safe exit routes,” said Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, Donatella Rovera.
It is thought that between 10,000 and 50,000 civilians remain trapped inside Raqqa, according to UN estimates.