Beirut – The United Nations announced on Wednesday that at least 173 civilians were killed in Syria’s Raqqa in June in air and ground operations against the ISIS terrorist group.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged all parties taking part in the battle for the city to take the appropriate precautions to protect the lives of no less than 100,000 civilians still trapped in Raqqa.
“Civilians must not be sacrificed for the sake of rapid military victories,” Zeid said in a statement issued in Geneva.
On the ground, Raqqa is still witnessing fierce battles between ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are backed by Washington-led International Coalition. The forces of the Euphrates Rage operation made small advances in the western part of the city, while dozens of civilians were killed in airstrikes in the Deir al-Zour province.
Opposition figures said that Russian jets had committed the massacre against a market in a village in the province when it shelled it with cluster bombs.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 30 people were killed and dozens injured in the shelling that targeted the area of al-Dablan and its surroundings that are about 20 kilometers away from the city of al-Mayadeen in Deir al-Zour.
Founder of the First Post website, Ahmed Ramadan, said that at least 50 people were killed in the strike, while several people were still trapped under the rubble.
He confirmed that Russia jets were behind the massacre.
“This not the first time that Russia has committed such a massacre. Over the past two weeks, it committed similar atrocities in the regions of al-Mohaimed and Khsham in Deir al-Zour,” he added.
Meanwhile, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, and British Deputy Commander-Strategy and Support for Combined Joint Task Force, Major General Rupert Timothy Jones, held talks with the Raqqa civilian council.
A Kurdish official told Asharq Al-Awsat that he two sides discussed the future of the city after its liberation from ISIS and ways to bolster stability in the region.
The gatherers focused on helping the areas that have hosted refugees from the embattled zones, he added.
The US envoy renewed his country’s commitment to back the SDF, describing them as a strong partner on the war on terror.