Monitor: U.S.-led airstrikes killed 42 civilians in Raqqa

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Aug. 22, 2017 at 11:48 AM
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Aug. 22 (UPI) -- U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed at least 42 people in Syria on Tuesday -- mostly women and children, a watchdog said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition strikes have targeted Islamic State-controlled areas in Raqqa over the past week -- and have killed at least 170 civilians.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia is on the ground in Raqqa, a militant hotbed, battling the terror group. The SDF is an alliance of different ethnic groups and religions with the goal of creating a secular, democratic government in Syria.

The SOHR said the coalition airstrikes were carried out on Raqqa's al-Sakhani and al-Badw roads, and in the al-Hadiqa al-Baydaa' area.

The death toll will likely increase, the watchdog said, adding that the clashes between the SDF and the Islamic State have already displaced thousands of residents and further deteriorated a humanitarian crisis.

Al Jazeera reported that at least 100 civilians have been killed by U.S. airstrikes in Raqqa since Sunday.

Doctors Without Borders said last month that the ongoing battle for Raqqa has left "sick and injured civilians within and outside the city facing major difficulties obtaining urgent lifesaving medical care."

"Patients tell us large numbers of sick and wounded people are trapped inside Raqqa city with little or no access to medical care and scant chance of escaping the city," Doctors Without Borders medical coordinator Vanessa Cramond said in a statement. "In the span of a few hours on July 29, our team treated four people -- including a five-year-old -- who sustained gunshot wounds as they were fleeing Raqqa city. We are extremely concerned for the lives of those who can't get out."

The SDF surrounded and isolated Raqqa, considered the Islamic State's Syrian capital, before launching its offensive to recapture the city -- similar to what Iraqi security forces are doing in their ongoing offensive toward Tal Afar.

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