CAIRO – One year after the Islamic State terror organization was expelled from its de-facto capital in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, the United States has not investigated the hundreds of civilians killed by coalition bombing and has refused to help with reconstruction after destroying almost 80 percent of the city, the human rights organization Amnesty International said in a report Monday.
Raqqa was fully retaken on Oct. 17, 2017 after four months of US-led airstrikes in support of Kurdish-led ground forces, but the US has only acknowledged causing 100 civilian deaths, while AI researchers put the number in the hundreds and found the majority of deaths were caused by the coalition.
“It is completely reprehensible that the coalition refuses to acknowledge its role in most of the civilian casualties it caused, and abhorrent that even where it has admitted responsibility, it accepts no obligation towards its victims,” Kumi Naidoo, the secretary general of AI, said in a statement Monday after having recently traveled to Raqqa.
AI researcher Donatella Rovera told EFE by phone that she witnessed a great deal of resentment among Raqqa’s inhabitants toward the US-led coalition.
She added that around 200,000 of the original 300,000 inhabitants had returned to homes that still ravaged by the battle.
IS did commit war crimes and used human shields, but the coalition’s artillery shells “were so inaccurate that we can say they were indiscriminate,” Rovera stressed, explaining that the strikes had a margin of error between 100 to 200 meters (around 300-600 feet), which is very large in a heavily-populated city.
Rovera said that most of the damage was clearly caused by the coalition, as it was the only side that used aerial bombings and artillery during the fighting.
As for the airstrikes, Kurdish forces on the ground were the ones that indicated the targets, but the coalition had the responsibility to verify them, Rovera asserted.
She said AI researchers had interviewed rescue teams in Raqqa and documented many cases in which airstrikes hit targets where no IS members were present.
Rovera denounced the lack of will on the part of the military alliance to investigate these deaths, because unlike AI, the US has the resources to exhaustively look into each case, but refuses to do so.