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Amnesty: US airstrikes in Syria 'potential war crimes'

[JURIST] There is evidence to suggest that coalition airstrikes in Syria are potential war crimes, according to an Amnesty International [advocacy website] report [text, PDF] released Tuesday detailing the effects on civilians of the US airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, which occurred from June to October of 2017.

Amnesty referred to the airstrikes, by the US-led Coalition against Islamic State (IS) insurgents, as "a war of annihilation."

In its investigation into possible violations of international humanitarian law, Amnesty reported on four Syrian families living in Raqqa. One of the families lost 39 members in the airstrikes.

"On the ground in Raqqa we witnessed a level of destruction comparable to anything we’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of wars," said [press release] Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International. She went on to say that the war crimes committed by IS did not excuse the coalition's actions.

The organization said, "There is strong evidence that Coalition air and artillery strikes killed and injured thousands of civilians, including in disproportionate or indiscriminate attacks that violated international humanitarian law and are potential war crimes."

Amnesty calls on the coalition to acknowledge the civilian casualties and property damage, and also to allow for a transparent investigation into violations of international humanitarian law. The organization also called on the coalition to devise a protocol to ensure that civilian casualties are minimized in the future and to provide assistance to civilians who were harmed by the airstrikes.

In May the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons concluded [JURIST report] that chemical weapons were likely used during the February attacks in Syria. In March a UN-based investigation unit claimed [JURIST report] that the evidence pointed to war crimes being committed by all sides in the Syria war.

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