Syria crisis: Civilian describes the effect of living under Isis control and 'constant air strikes from the sky': 'We're trapped'

At least 18,866 civilians have been killed in Syrian government bombardments, with more than 100 killed in US-led strikes

Rose Troup Buchanan
Wednesday 02 December 2015 12:17
What it's like to be near an air strike

A Syrian humanitarian group has filmed the horrific reality of an air strike ahead of MPs vote on whether to extend the UK's bombardment against Isis to Syria.

It comes as an Iraqi citizen living under Isis described how people feel simultaneously “trapped” by the terror organisation on the ground and “constant air strikes from the sky.”

The White Helmets, a Syrian organisation rescuing victims of air strikes, filmed the devastation following a strike in September as civilians scramble to rescue their wounded and are then hit by another strike.

At least 18,866 civilians have been killed in Syrian government air attacks and an estimated 181 killed in US-led air strikes against Isis since 2014, according to The New York Times.

In Iraq, Iraqi military strikes are estimated to have killed some 1,748 civilians, according to the Iraqi body count project. A further 10,858 civilians have died, of which 118 deaths were “ reported killed by US-coalition air strikes”. The UK has been part of the US-led bombing of Iraq since August 2014.

The media activist - who is not being named - in Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the so-called Islamic State, described the horror of air strikes last week.

“People are horrified and everyone here lives in fear,” the unnamed individual told Al Jazeera, emphasising he did not know of any civilians killed in the latest strikes on the city.

"What the world needs to know is that we live under ISIL control on the ground, and constant air strikes from the sky. We are trapped."

It comes ahead of MPs vote to decide whether to bomb Syria. David Cameron has strongly backed Syrian air strikes, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will vote against intervention.

The most recent YouGov poll suggested the majority of the British public’s support for RAF air strikes had fallen from 59 per cent to 48 per cent.

Some experts have also cast doubt on the effectiveness of strikes, noting while they would not support western ground forces, “local” forces could be a better long-term alternative.

“The reason is that unguided – i.e. not guided by forces on the ground – air power is unable to discriminately destroy Isis military targets,” Andreas Krieg, from King’s College’s Department of Defence Studies, told The Independent.

“Civilian deaths occurred through human shield are counterproductive.”

Mr Krieg’s view was supported by a Frontline Club panel discussion in October on the Syrian Caesar Photos, documenting the atrocities of the Assad regime, and debating solutions to Assad and Isis.

Closing up the discussion, both Mouaz Moustafa, executive director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and German-Syrian campaigner Usahma Felix Darrah spoke against aerial bombardments.

“We need a no fly zone,” Mr Darrah said, urging the audience to support this view.

“You have got to stop the aerial bombardment of civilians,” Mr Moustafa added. “Call it whatever you want, whatever makes you feel better about the term, but that’s what’s needed.”

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