The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls for opening safe corridors for getting civilians out of Al-Raqqah city, and warns the International Coalition of bombing civilians under any pretext what so ever.
It has been a month since the launch of the Grand Battle of Al-Raqqah and yet its objective – taking control of Al-Raqqah city, which is considered the capital and the main stronghold of the “Islamic State” organization in Syria – has not been achieved yet. It has been a month of fierce battles and military operations in the city, its walls and outskirts and at the southern banks of the Euphrates; a month that left scores of civilian casualties who have been caught up in that bloody conflict.
The SOHR has been monitoring the Battle and observed that the Syria Democratic Forces and the Syrian Elite Forces backed up by the US Special Forces with the support of the International Coalition warplanes managed to take control of the neighborhoods of Al-Mashlab and Al-Sinaa and most of Al-Hal Market, advance to the outskirts of Hisham Ben Abdel Malik neighborhood, take control of huge parts of Al-Batani neighborhood and reach the outskirts of al-Rmylah neighborhood in the eastern part of the city. In addition, they managed to take control of parts of Division 17, which is considered the main northern defense line of Al-Raqqah city. The SDF were also able to take control of Jazrah and Al-Herqliyyeh suburbs, Al-Romaniya and Al-Sabahiya neighborhoods, and parts of Hutteen and Al-Bareed neighborhoods. The “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces backed by the International Coalition, on the other hand, managed to enter the Old City and take control of an area of 200 meters extending from the Old City walls towards its west. Finally, the SDF successfully encircled the city, besieging it in order to tighten the grip on ISIS.
Such advancements and clashes were accompanied by explosions of booby-trapped vehicles and bombardments by ISIS and shelling by the International Coalition warplanes and the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces. And with each targeting, more material damages and destruction were caused in the infrastructure of the City, including hospitals, public utilities, service institutions, residential buildings and citizens’ houses. And with each targeting fell more civilian casualties, who were caught up in a city facing death and daily killings with missiles, shells, bombs, bombings, clashes and snipers’ bullets.
The SOHR continued to follow up on, observe and document the situation in Al-Raqqah city, including battles, advancements, attacks, destruction, and daily killings of more and more civilians, the fatalities among whom rose to at least 224 including an SOHR activist. 224 represent the number of Syrian civilians whose death has been documented by the SOHR since the 5th of June 2017 until dawn today, the 6th of July. Fatalities included at least 38 children below the age of 18 and 28 female citizens above 18. In addition, airstrikes left hundreds of civilians injured, with various degrees of severity, some of whom had their limbs amputated, some were left with permanent disabilities and some are still in a critical condition, which means that the death toll is still likely to rise. Moreover, the intensive shelling that targeted the city, its surroundings and outskirts destroyed tens of houses and public utilities.
On the other hand, at least 311 ISIS elements, including local commanders and group commanders, were killed as a result of the airstrikes carried out by the International Coalition warplanes, the intensive shelling on Al-Raqqah city and its outskirts, and the military operations carried out by the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces which consist of the Syria Democratic Forces and the Syrian Elite Forces backed by the US Special Forces with the support of the International Coalition warplanes. Confirmed information was also reported about the death of more elements and the injury of tens of others.
In addition, the SOHR documented the death of 106 fighters of the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces, including two of the Syrian Elite Forces and the rest are among the SDF, which are formed from fighters of YPG and Al-Manbij Military Council, who died in bombings, shelling and clashes with ISIS in Al-Raqqah city and at the southern banks of the Euphrates.