Fresh US-led air raids kill 7 civilians in Syria's Mayadin

"Knowing that IS use civilians as human shields, [Syrian Democratic Forces] and USA forces must redouble efforts to protect civilians, notably by avoiding disproportionate or indiscriminate strikes and creating safe exit routes", said Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International, who led the on-the-ground investigation.

"It is imperative that all the parties to the conflict take all feasible precautions to minimise harm to civilians, including ending the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated civilian areas, in compliance with the prohibition on indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks". It also questioned the reliability of many reported casualty figures.

British Army Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, the deputy commander for the USA -led coalition, told reporters Wednesday that coalition jets go to "extraordinary lengths" to minimize civilian casualties when conducting airstrikes.

Egeland says the urging the humanitarian task force, including members of the coalition fighting to retake Raqqa, to do whatever is possible to help people escape the embattled city. "We are extremely concerned for the lives of those who can't get out". "In Raqqa, this means high numbers of identifiable civilians, many of them women and children".

Over the better part of two months, the group says it has documented the deaths of at least 146 civilians in coalition airstrikes in and around the city - at least 60 of whom are children. Most are being kept there by ISIS fighters.

"Whether you live or die depends on luck because you don't know where the next shell will strike, so you don't know where to run", former Raqqa resident Mohammed told Amnesty.

"We are focusing on Old Raqqa because the terrorist organization's forces have fortified themselves there", Muhammad Abu Adel, a commander with the Manbij Military Council forces on the ground, referring to the Islamic State, told Syria Direct this week. "They can be fixed", she said.

Numerous recent escapees told Amnesty International how these relentless and often imprecise attacks resulted in a surge of civilian casualties in recent weeks and months.

Russian Federation and Syria say they only target militants.

Mahmouda, a resident who fled the Daraiya area, told Amnesty International: "It was a awful situation ..."

Residents of towns south of Raqqa also described fleeing indiscriminate air bombardments in the area in mid-July.

Townsend challenged the notion that civilian casualties had increased "to some significant degree", while conceding that because operations have increased in intensity "it's probably logical to assume that there has been some increase in the civilian casualties".

Facing all-but guaranteed defeat in their last urban stronghold, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists seem to be relying more heavily on the youngest of their recruits to carryout both attacks, and deliver their propaganda.

It is not known precisely how many civilians are left inside the city, though United Nations estimates range from 10,000 to 50,000 people. While the United States support several Syrian rebel factions and Kurdish forces in the northeastern Syria, Russia has been the most important ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, cooperating with his other backer, Iran.

  • Joey Payne