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Fresh US-led air raids kill 7 civilians in Syria's Mayadin

25 August 2017

Survivors and witnesses told Amnesty International that they were trapped on "all sides" between ISIS militants, the US -led coalition force's aerial bombardment, and Russia-backed Syrian government airstrikes.

The U.S. -led coalition says it is careful to avoid civilian casualties in its bombing runs against Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, and investigates any allegations.

The military campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria will end in the Euphrates River valley area between the Syria-Iraq border and the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zur, where Syrian regime forces and their allies are advancing, a senior coalition commander has said.

It went on to say that the government of the Syrian Arab Republic condemns those crimes perpetrated by the global coalition, adding that Syria reiterates its call on the states which carry out those crimes to withdraw from this "coalition".

Over the better part of two months, the group says it has documented the deaths of at least 146 civilians in coalition airstrikes in and around the city - at least 60 of whom are children.

"Things will only get more unsafe as the battle reaches its final stages in the city center", Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser, told VOA.

But the anti-tank weapons like the Javelin and TOW didn't just turn up in Iraq and Syria amid the chaos of the 2003 invasion: they were sent there more recently by the US -led coalition in Syria.

Amnesty said atrocities committed by IS notwithstanding, all parties to the Syrian conflict have a responsibility to abide by worldwide legal standards for warfare and civilian protection. "Knowing that IS use civilians as human shields, SDF and U.S. 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's not known exactly how many civilians remain trapped in Raqqa and other ISIS-controlled areas around the city.

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"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.

The US-led coalition had launched an operation to push IS out of Raqqa on June 6.

"I have seen the reports of increased civilian casualties, and it is probably logical to assume that there have been some increases in civilian casualties because our operations have increased in intensity there", he said at a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday.

"Boats on the Euphrates must not be attacked, people who come out can not risk air raids when and where they come out", he said.

Amnesty said one resident described how a dozen shells struck a residential area in Daraiya on June 10, killing at least a dozen people ranging in age from infant to elderly.

"Now is the time to think of possibilities, pauses or otherwise that might facilitate the escape of civilians", Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria, told reporters in Geneva.

More than 330,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

The death toll stands at more than 400,000 people killed, according to United Nations estimates.

Fresh US-led air raids kill 7 civilians in Syria's Mayadin