26 August, 2017
He says civilians are suffering large casualties from heavy shelling by the Syria government and the constant air raids by the USA -backed coalition forces. "This includes selecting lawful targets, avoiding indiscriminate or disproportionate strikes, and taking all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians", Rovera said. The report also accuses coalition forces of hiding the true extent of casualties.
The report said coalition forces dropped pamphlets in March, warning civilians not to use ferries and boats to escape because of the danger of airstrikes.
Both Mattis and the commander of the USA -led coalition to defeat ISIS, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, pointed to the tendency of the Sunni jihadists to use civilians as human shields, as the battle to dislodge the group from its Syrian "capital" continues into its third month. "We are extremely concerned for the lives of those who can't get out".
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could start its assault on Deir al-Zor "within several weeks" in parallel with an ongoing battle for nearby Raqqa city, Ahmed Abu Khawla told Reuters.
Airwars, an independent monitor that tracks casualties and US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, now estimates that a minimum of 5,000 civilians have likely been killed by coalition actions in Iraq and Syria since 2014. "But the SDF are making incremental gains on multiple fronts, and ISIS fighters are suffering considerable losses".
Displaced children from the Islamic State group's Syrian stronghold of Raqa, pose for a photo behind a fence at a camp in Ain Issa on August 22, 2017.More news: Total buys Maersk Oil for $7.45 Billion
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. "They can be fixed", she said.
Neither Russia, Syria nor the United States are signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but worldwide humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
But the coalition acknowledges it has escalated its strikes on Raqa, with more aircraft available since a US-backed operation successfully pushed IS from Mosul in neighbouring Iraq last month.
Amnesty urged the worldwide community to urgently increase aid for fleeing civilians. There is also a telephone hotline linking the former Cold War foes' air operations centers. Gen. Rupert Jones, deputy commander of the coalition's task force against ISIS, told reporters Wednesday.
Townsend said it was logical to assume there had been "some increase" in civilian casualties as a result of increased strikes, but that he had seen no hard evidence that casualties had increased significantly. The UN estimates that about 25,000 civilians may remain in the city risking IS sniper fire and mines in the city.
Islamic State is on the back foot in both Syria and Iraq. Russian Federation and the United States are the co-chairs of the taskforces and the ISSG, which also comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries.