War crimes intestigators from the United Nations Organization have warned that the assault by a US-led coalition against the Islamic State capital city of Raqqa is causing "staggering" loss of civilian life.
The investigators cite hundreds of civilian deaths by the US-led coalition backing Syrian Kurdish forces with air strikes since the offensive was launched in March. 160,000 people have fled the city as the Syrian Democratic Forces attack the north, west and east of Raqqa. Itis believed that there are 4,000 Islamic State militants in the city, including senior figures along with up to 100,000 trapped civilians.
It is hoped that the attack on Raqqa ends quickly, bringing an end to the suffering of the civilians, and especially for the Yazidi women and girls being held as sexual slaves by Islamic State. However, according to the Chair of the Independent Commission on Syria, Paolo Pinheiro, progress must not come "at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where [IS] is present". He blamed in particular the intensification of air strikes paving the way for the SDF to advance, which "has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced."
The deployment of white phosphorous by the US-led coalition has also been heavily criticized.