Up to 2,500 bodies have been dug from the rubble in the Syrian city of Al-Raqqa, Amnesty International said on Friday.
Most of the dead were civilians after tens of thousands were displaced due to the US-led campaign against Daesh in the city.
Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Research, Anya Neistat, said in a press conference held in Beirut on Friday that “30,000 houses in Raqqa have been completely destroyed and 25,000 are partially destroyed. So far about 2,500 bodies have been dug from the rubble,” Reuters reported.
Neistat added: “To the extent that they [the search team] are able to identify the bodies, they believe that the majority of them are civilians. And the majority of these civilians have died as a result of coalition air strikes”. She continued: “Nobody knows what’s going to happen to the 3,000 bodies that still lie in the ground,” noting that about 80 per cent of the city is in ruins while “funding to recover them [is] poised to run out”.
She added: “It is absolutely shocking in Raqqa how little over this last year has actually been done to bring life back to the city”.
Amnesty International’s new Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, described the “horrific destruction and utter human devastation” he witnessed when he visited Al-Raqqa one year after the end of the US-led battle, saying: “What I saw in Raqqa shocked me to my core”.
He added: “The city is a shell – bombed-out buildings, very little running water or electricity, the stench of death hanging in the air. That anyone is still able to live there defies logic and stands as testimony to the remarkable resilience of the city’s civilians”.
“Attacks by the US-led coalition not only killed hundreds of civilians but also displaced tens of thousands, who are now returning to a city in ruins, while many others languish in camps,” Naidoo lamented.
The US-led coalition fighting against Isis in Syria and Iraq admitted to killing at least 1,114 civilians in air and artillery strikes in the four-year span of the war. Inherent Resolve, the codename for the US-dominated coalition combating the jihadi group, said it had launched a total of 30,008 strikes on suspected Isis targets between August 2014 and August 2018, and that each allegation of civilian casualties has been investigated.
The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria appears to have used white phosphorus-loaded munitions on at least two occasions in densely populated areas of Mosul and in the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to videos posted online and human rights groups.
The US-led Coalition against so-called Islamic State has quietly admitted to killing at least 40 civilians in a March 2017 strike near Raqqa, finally acknowledging what a UN inquiry and human rights groups have long said was among the bloodiest incidents of the four year bombing campaign.
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