As of June 2017, Raqqa remains the only major Syrian city fully under ISIL control. The so-called Battle of Raqqa is the fifth and final phase of the campaign launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIL in their de facto capital of Raqqa. The battle is being supported by airstrikes and ground troops from the US-led coalition.
U.S.-led coalition airstrikes near Raqqa earlier this year killed at least 84 civilians, including 30 children, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. In March, a bomb hit a school being used as a shelter for internally displaced persons in the village of al-Mansoura in the western Raqqa governorate countryside. In another instance, dozens of people died while standing in line for bread next to a refugee shelter.
“We are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe in Raqqa as we previously did in Mosul [in Iraq]. It was caused by a lack of effective effort to deliver humanitarian aid and create corridors for the evacuation of civilian population, as well as persistent mistakes of the US Air Force, including airstrikes targeting civilian sites,” said Oleg Syromolotov, who supervises counterterrorism cooperation with other nations on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“There is enough evidence to indicate that many civilians were killed, dozens,” Nadim Houry, HRW director of terrorism and counterterrorism division. “When we asked the [US-led coalition]… on how they conducted their investigation they said these were… secrets that they could not share with us.”
One day before the HRW report, Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, Britain’s deputy commander for strategy and support for Operation Inherent Resolve, told London’s The Sunday Times that the deaths of innocent people is the “price you pay” for fighting the Islamic State.