In ISIS-held Raqqa, No Escape for Thousands of Civilians, Amnesty Warns

Since 2001 US has renormalized the bombing of civilian areas

Meanwhile, a large number of the Islamic State terrorists (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Raqqa have left to join the final battle for the besieged city of Deir ez-Zor, according to the Russian military.

The SDF alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias has been fighting to seize Raqqa from Islamic State with the help of air strikes and special forces from the USA -led coalition.

"Things will only get more risky as the battle reaches its final stages in the city centre", said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser. At least 30 civilians were killed in that campaign, it said.

Amnesty said IS was using civilians remaining in the city as human shields, and reported that fleeing residents described coming under sniper fire.

Amnesty's account comes as Syrian monitoring groups continue to report civilian casualties in Raqqa's populated neighborhoods after intense coalition airstrikes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the early Friday counterattack by IS short-circuited a government advance on Maadan, which brought them within only a few kilometers (miles) in recent days.

The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia is on the ground in Raqqa, a militant hotbed, battling the terror group.

Up to 25,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in the city which, according to the coalition, has been hit by 250 air strikes in the past week alone.

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Daraiya, west of Raqqa's city centre, is one area that was heavily bombarded by coalition forces, including from 8-10 June.

"The ones we hope will listen and take measures to protect civilians are the coalition forces", Rovera told VOA.

Still, for the civilians living in those buildings, the crossfire of IEDs and airstrikes has rendered a hellscape of a place they've long called home. It urged the USA and other anti-IS coalition members to be more transparent about information on their airstrikes and review the effectiveness of their civilian casualty prevention and mitigation processes.

"But", he added, "I would ask someone to show me hard information that says that civilian casualties have increased in Raqqa to some significant degree".

"The warplanes of the US-led coalition added a new crime to their criminal record by targeting civilians and infrastructure in Syria on Tuesday the 22nd of August through shelling the residential neighborhoods in Raqqa, claiming the lives of 78 civilians, injuring tens of others, majority women and children, and causing huge damage to the local and private properties", reads the letters. "More can and must be done to preserve the lives of civilians trapped in the conflict". "We can make a mistake, and in this kind of warfare, tragedy will happen".

Raqqa residents fleeing IS-held areas reach SDF positions on Tuesday. "We are the good guys and the innocent people on the battlefield know the difference", he said.

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.

At least 78 civilians were killed in USA -led coalition airstrikes and Syrian Democratic Forces shelling in Daesh-held Raqqah province on Monday, according to an activist-run monitoring group, Raqqah Is Being Slaughtered Silently.

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