The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria says at least 150 civilians lost their lives in the US-led coalition’s airstrikes on a school in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah in March 2017.
In its latest report covering six months through January 15, the UN commission said on Tuesday the death toll is roughly five times higher than the figures acknowledged by the Pentagon, which claimed at the time that dozens of militants and no civilians were killed.
The commission said the US-led coalition has violated international law by failing to take all feasible precautions to protect displaced civilians, including women and children, known to be sheltered in the school in Raqqah since 2012.
We found that “the US forces had enough time and resources available, that they should have been able to take additional precautions that may have led to the air strike being called off or delayed,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said.
The US has been conducting airstrikes against what it says are Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a United Nations mandate.
The US and its allies have repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians and drawn criticism over their failure to destroy Daesh which they claim to be fighting.
The UN said a Russian air raid in Aleppo also killed 84 Syrian civilians last year.
The Russian defense chief on March 1 called on the UN to set up an international commission to assess the humanitarian situation in the city of Raqqah, which is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militants.
In a letter to UN envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, Sergei Shoigu suggested “opening humanitarian corridors from Al-Tanf and Rukban, and establishing an international commission to evaluate the humanitarian situation in Raqqah,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
Raqqah fell in the hands of US-sponsored Kurdish militants last year after they managed to drive Daesh terrorists out of the city. They have refused to hand back the control of Raqqah to the Syrian government.