The US-led coalition has largely destroyed Raqqa in order to “save” the Syrian city from Islamic State, and many of its residents were killed by their would-be liberators before they could enjoy living free from IS oppression.
As US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters celebrated the liberation of Raqqa, the dwindling IS’ de facto capital, a picture of an utterly devastated city in which civilians paid the heaviest price in blood and belongings emerged. Trapped between IS fighters, who sometimes used them as human shields and often murdered those who attempted to flee their shrinking area of control, and coalition air and artillery strikes, the 270,000 men, women and children remaining in the destroyed city were ceaselessly surrounded by unimaginable horrors.
The carnage caused by the coalition campaign in Raqqa has been largely ignoredby the US corporate mainstream media. Intense US-led bombing and SDF shelling rocked Raqqa in the final two weeks of the allied assault, killing and wounding many civilians, including entire families. Some of the deadliest attacks included:
– On October 2, Al Jazeera reported 45 people, including women and children, died in a US-led bombing attack in the al-Tawassi’ya neighborhood.
– On October 3, a US-led air strike killed 18 civilians, including women and children, who were gathered around a well in al-Tawassi’ya, Agence France-Press reported.
– Also on October 3, Al Obaid Nazzal, his wife and four of their daughters died in a coalition air strike on the city. The journalistic monitor group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) reportedthe family previously fled fighting in Palmyra.
– On the same day, a US-led air strike on a residential building in the al-Badou neighborhood killed 16 civilians, most of them relatives. The dead included 11 children and three women, according to RBSS.
– In yet another devastating October 3 air strike, Reporters Without Borders Raqqa reported 14 civilians from two displaced families from Palmyra were killed. Seven of the dead were women.
– In the second air strike targeting a well in as many days, as many as 15 civilians including seven children died on October 4 as they gathered around a well in the al-Shuhadaa neighborhood, local media and monitors reported.
– That same day, Sadeed al-Hallaq, his wife, his parents and his seven children died in a US-led bombing attack in the al-Badou neighborhood.
– Also on October 4, as many as 16 people from two families died in a coalition air strike in the al-Tawaswiya neighborhood, local media and monitors reported.
– On October 6, Mohammed Jumaa al-Nashif, his wife, his daughter-in-law and her five children died in a US air strike on their Raqqa home, according to local media and monitors.
– Around 40 civilians were reportedly killed when warplanes bombed an apartment building in the al-Badou neighborhood on October 6.
– Also on October 6, RBSS reported Amal al Huwaidi and her five children died in a coalition air strike on the al-Batani roundabout area in al-Badou neighborhood.
– On October 8, a family of 10 Palmyra refugees died when their home was bombed in a US-led air strike, RBSS reported. That same day and into the next, nine other displaced Palymrans, almost all of them related, were reportedly killed in separate coalition air strikes.
– On October 12, at least 25 civilians died in US-led coalition bombing of two homes in the al-Badou neighborhood, according to local media and monitor groups. Most of the dead were related women and children.
According to RBSS, the coalition assault on Raqqa, in which thousands of bombs were dropped by coalition warplanes and thousands of artillery shells were fired by SDF and other coalition ground forces during fierce house-to-house fighting, left 1,873 civilians dead. Thousands more were injured and some 450,000 people were displaced. The group says US, SDF and allied forces destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, eight hospitals, more than 40 schools and 29 mosques.
Earlier this year, United Nations human rights investigators condemned the “staggering loss of civilian life” caused by US-led air strikes in and around Raqqa. However, the Trump administration appears largely unconcerned about the large number of innocent men, women and children being killed in the ongoing 16-year war against Islamist terrorism, which some experts estimate has claimed more than a million lives. President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to “bomb the shit out of” IS militants and kill their innocent relatives — a war crime — and in June, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis announced the US was “accelerating the tempo” of the war against IS, shifting from a policy of “attrition” to one of “annihilation.” Mattis has shrugged off concern for civilian casualties, which he called “a fact of life in this sort of situation.”
While US commanders claim the coalition takes great care to avoid killing and wounding innocent people, survivors of the assault on Raqqa spoke of “indiscriminate” US bombardment, which included the use of the banned chemical weapon white phosphorus. One local shopkeeper lamented to the BBC:
“America is a superpower. It was supposed to use laser-guided bombs and precision munitions. What did we get instead? Massive bombs, mortar rounds and countless artillery strikes. Is that how you liberate Raqqa? You’re murdering civilians instead.”
The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars estimates a minimum of 5,637 to 8,636 civilians are likely to have died in coalition air and artillery strikes in Syria and Iraq since the United States launched the anti-IS campaign August 2014 under President Barack Obama. Estimates of the number of dead in the overall US-led global war against terrorism range from the hundreds of thousands to more than 1.3 million. Since the nuclear war waged by the United States to end World War II, US bombs and bullets have killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force on the planet, by far.