US-led coalition committed ‘potential war crimes’ in Syria: Amnesty

LONDON, June 6: The US-led military campaign to oust the Islamic State (IS) group from the Syrian city of Raqa in 2017 killed hundreds of civilians in indiscriminate bombing, amounting to possible war crimes, Amnesty International said today.
The military operation failed to take “adequate account” of civilians and the “precautions necessary to minimise harm” to them in the city, IS’s de facto capital in Syria, the human rights group said in a report.
“Coalition claims that its precision air campaign allowed it to bomb IS out of Raqa while causing very few civilian casualties do not stand up to scrutiny,” the report concluded.
“The coalition strikes detailed in this report appear either disproportionate or indiscriminate or both and as such unlawful and potential war crimes.” Coalition spokesman US Colonel Thomas Veale criticised Amnesty for the report, saying the group had not checked findings with the military or asked for comment.
But he said his biggest objection was Amnesty’s assumption that the coalition violated international law. “They are literally judging us guilty until proven innocent,” Veale told Pentagon reporters.
“That’s a bold rhetorical move by an organisation that fails to check the public record or consult the accused.” The United States led a four-month campaign of air strikes from June last year, dubbed a “war of annihilation” by US Defence Secretary James Mattis, to oust IS from Raqa.
Amnesty researchers travelled to the devastated city in February and spent two weeks visiting 42 coalition air strike sites, interviewing 112 witnesses and survivors. (AGENCIES)