UNITED NATIONS, June 28 (APP): Voicing grave concern over the fate
of as many as 100,000 civilians “effectively trapped” in Syria’s Raqqa governorate amid the ongoing offensive against ISIL/Da’esh fighters,
the top United Nations rights official urged all parties to the conflict
to enact measures to allow civilians who wish to flee the fighting to
do so in safety.
“The intense bombardment of Al-Raqqa over the past three weeks
has reportedly left civilians terrified and confused about where they
can seek refuge as they are caught between ISIL’s monstrosities and the fierce battle to defeat it,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Wednesday in a statement issued by his
“Civilians must not be sacrificed for the sake of rapid military victories,” he underscored, calling on all forces battling ISIL in
the city, including international forces, to review their operations
to ensure full compliance with international law and taking all
feasible precautions to save civilian lives.
High Commissioner Zeid also underscored the need to promptly and effectively investigate reports of civilian casualties.
According to OHCHR data, conservative estimates indicate that at
least 173 civilians have been killed in air and ground strikes since
June 1. Furthermore, reports of civilian deaths continue to mount and
escape routes are increasingly sealed off.
The statement also noted that while some did manage to leave after paying large sums of money to smugglers, including traffickers
affiliated with ISIL, allegations continue to emerge of ISIL
preventing civilians from fleeing.
There are also worrying reports of violations and abuses by the
armed group, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in areas under its
control, such as Tabqa city – located west of Raqqa city – including
of looting, abductions, arbitrary detentions during screening processes
as well as the recruitment of children, the release added.