It appears that the Pentagon’s attempt to keep the record of civilian casualties in Raqqa swept under the rug has failed amid growing criticism from international human rights watchdogs, who insist that the US-led coalition’s actions in Syria potentially amounted to a war crime.
While the Pentagon claims that it conducted a precision air campaign in Raqqa, the facts on the ground prove otherwise.
Amnesty International’s report, released on June 5, exposed that the US-coalition’s four-month military operation to oust Daesh (ISIS/ISIL)* from Raqqa left hundreds of civilians dead, injured many more and left most of the city in ruins.
However, when responding to the human rights watchdog’s criticism, the US Department of Defense claimed that “no one will ever know” how many civilians were killed.
“As far as how do we know how many civilians were killed, I am just being honest, no one will ever know. Anyone who claims they will know is lying, and there’s no possible way,” US Army Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the US-led anti-Daesh coalition, told a Pentagon briefing via video link.
The statement was immediately subjected to harsh criticism from Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch: “When the US tells the world it doesn’t care enough to track the deaths of civilians it is causing, that’s a green light for belligerents around the world to take the exact same attitude,” she said as quoted by NBC News.