At least 224 civilians have lost their lives over the past month in airstrikes conducted by the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh terrorists in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, a London-based monitor says.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Thursday that the death toll covered the period since the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed group of mostly Kurdish forces, entered Raqqah on June 6.
“At least 224 civilians, including 38 children and 28 women, have been killed in airstrikes by the global coalition on Raqqah since the SDF entered it,” it said.
The observatory further noted that clashes and airstrikes in Raqqah had killed 311 Daesh elements and 106 SDF members since June 6.
The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
Daesh captured Raqqah in July 2014 and declared the city its stronghold in Syria.
Fighting is underway to retake Raqqah from the grip of militants while tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be trapped inside the city.
Syria terrorists planning ‘provocative’ chemical attack
In another development on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (pictured below) said Moscow has information that terrorists are planning to stage a chemical attack in Syria in order to justify US airstrikes against government forces.
“According to information available, Syrian terrorist groups plan staged provocative actions with the use of chemical poison gases to justify US strikes against the positions of the Syrian government forces,” Zakharova said.
Daesh is transferring equipment used for the production of ammunition, including those equipped with chemical agents, from Raqqah to areas under its control in Dayr al-Zawr Province, she added.
The Russian official also stressed that his country would seek an “impartial investigation” into the April 4 alleged gas attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun and “other persistent chemical provocations against the legitimate Syrian government.”
Three days after the purported chemical attack, US warships in the eastern Mediterranean launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat in Syria’s Homs Province. Washington claimed that the airbase targeted in the missile raid was the origin of the Khan Shaykhun incident that killed 80 people.
Bomb blast rips through Syria’s Hama
Separately on Thursday, a bomb explosion hit a bus station in Syria’s west-central city of Hama, killing at least two people and injuring 11 others.
“A terrorist with an explosive belt blew himself up at the western bus station in Hama,” state television reported.
Explosions are rare in Hama, which is controlled by Syrian government forces.
Hama governor, Mohammad al-Hazouri, told Syria’s al-Ikhbariya TV that the bomber set off his explosives at the entrance of the bus station while being inspected by security forces.
He also noted that two of the wounded were in critical condition.