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Syria air strike: At least 42 civilians killed by US-led bomb attack in Raqqa, report activists

19 children and 12 women said to be among dead

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 22 August 2017 09:48 BST
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Smoke rises after an air strike during fighting between members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria
Smoke rises after an air strike during fighting between members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants in Raqqa, Syria (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

US-led coalition air strikes killed at least 42 civilians after targeting densely-populated neighbourhoods of the Isis-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa, a monitoring group has said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included 19 children and 12 women.

The activist-run group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently said 32 people were killed in air strikes on one neighbourhood alone.

Syrian state media said the air strikes killed dozens.

They all blamed the US-led coalition.

US backed fighters make progress in driving Isis out of Raqqa

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said its civilian casualty team would assess the allegations.

A spokesperson for CENTCOM told The Independent: "The Coalition takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and assesses all credible allegations of possible civilian casualties. Coalition forces work diligently and deliberately to be precise in our airstrikes.

"Coalition forces comply with the law of armed conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians."

They added: "The Coalition respects human life and is assisting partner forces in their effort to liberate their land from Isis while safeguarding civilians. Our goal is always for zero civilian casualties."

Isis is taking heavy losses in Syria, where Kurdish and Arab militias backed by the US-led coalition have captured swathes of its territory in the north and are assaulting its former "capital" of Raqqa.

Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition against Isis, said around 2,000 Isis fighters remained in Raqqa and as much as 60 per cent of the city had been retaken.

An estimated 25,000 civilians remain in the city and are at risk of being used as human shields by Isis.

The jihadi group is now falling back deeper into the Euphrates valley region of eastern Syria.

US officials said Isis had 40,000 foreign fighters from 110 countries across Syria and Iraq in 2014, but since then they are believed to have lost 70,000 square kilometers of territory - 78 per cent of the territory they used to hold in Iraq, and 58 per cent of the territory they used to hold in Syria.

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