On 26th July 2017, coalition airstrikes and shelling from US-backed forces targeted Raqqa, Syria, killing at least 36 civilians and wounding more than 50 others.
The attacks targeted IS’s remaining stronghold in the city which formally acted as the group’s capital. The US-led coalition believes there to be between 3,000 and 4,000 IS fighters remaining in the 10% of Raqqa province which the group still controls.
Airstrikes targeting the city have proven to be complicated due to a UN estimate that there are a further 100,000 civilians besieged in the city alongside IS.
Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) records the harm caused by explosive violence across the globe according to English-language media sources. Syria has consistently been a hot spot for explosive violence as highlighted by the explosive violence monitor.
Between 2011-2016 Syria saw at least 51,875 reported deaths and injuries from explosive violence. Of these, 86% (44,614) were civilians. Last year, AOAV recorded 13,313 civilian deaths and injuries from explosive violence. 48% were caused by air-launched weapons.
Compared to 2015, AOAV recorded a 45% increase in civilian deaths and injuries from air-launched explosive violence in Syria.
AOAV calls upon states to recognise the civilian impact of explosive weapons with wide-area impacts, which all too often result in the death and injury of scores of civilians. The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), of which Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) is a member, released a briefing paper last year, ‘A Declaration to Prevent Harm From the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas‘, which sets out the key elements that should be included in a political instrument to address the humanitarian problem posed by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
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