Wed Aug 23, 2017 01:51AM
The UN Secretary General’s spokesman Stéphane Dujarric
The UN Secretary General’s spokesman Stéphane Dujarric

The United Nations has expressed “deep concerns” over the steeply rising number of civilian casualties caused by US airstrikes in Raqqah as the toll of non-combatant deaths in the past week has passed 170.

“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us they are deeply concerned by unconfirmed reports of a high number of civilians killed by airstrikes in Raqqah city over the last 24 hours,” said Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary general.

“In recent days and weeks scores of civilians have reportedly been killed and injured in Raqqah due to airstrikes and shelling and up to 25 thousand people remain trapped in the city,” he added.

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At least 78 people alone were killed on Tuesday, US-led jets targeted al-Sakhani and al-Badou alleyways as well as al-Tausiyah neighborhood in the city, located about 455 kilometers (283 miles) northeast of the capital Damascus.

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a large number of those killed were women and children, and that the toll was the highest since operations to liberate Raqqah began.

On June 6, the US-backed militiamen from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had launched an operation aimed at pushing Daesh out of Raqqah.

“The UN condemns any attack that is directed against civilians or civilian infrastructure. We urge all parties fighting in Raqqah and across Syria to take every possible measure to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure as in line with obligations under international humanitarian law,” stressed Dujarric.

Smoke is seen following an airstrike on the western frontline of Raqqah on July 17, 2017, during an offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a majority Kurdish and Arab alliance, to retake the city Daesh terrorists. (Photo by AFP)

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. 

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.