US-led coalition air strikes on ISIS kill 59 civilians, including 21 children

Smoke billows in an eastern area of the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Aug 15, 2017.
Smoke billows in an eastern area of the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Aug 15, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - US-led coalition air strikes aimed at dislodging the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group from the Syrian city of Raqqa have cost the lives of 59 civilians in three days, a monitoring group said Thursday (Aug 17).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 children were among at least 59 civilians killed in the air strikes since Monday, after more corpses were dug out from under piles of rubble.

With air support from the multi-national coalition, a Kurdish-Arab alliance on Thursday battled the Islamists in Raqqa's Old City, of which it now controls 70 per cent, the Britain-based group said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also fought ISIS in the western district of Al-Dariya and the north-western neighbourhood of Al-Barid, as well as on the outskirts of the central district of Al-Murur, it said.

The coalition has repeatedly stressed it takes every precaution to avoid civilian casualties.

But it has recognised 624 such deaths in its air strikes since 2014, a figure which many rights groups say is vastly underestimated.

According to the United Nations, 25,000 civilians are trapped inside Raqqa, the Islamist group's erstwhile de facto Syrian capital.

The SDF launched an operation to capture Raqqa province from ISIS last year, and in June the alliance broke into Raqqa city for the first time.

It now holds more than half of the city, but the fighting has proved fierce and civilians have been killed both in the crossfire and while trying to flee.