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UN Rights Chief Concerned Over Civilian Toll Of Syria Air Strikes


United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein (file photo)

The UN human rights chief is calling on countries carrying out air strikes in Syria to take greater care to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilians.

In a statement on May 26, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein specifically mentioned operations targeting Islamic State (IS) militants in northeastern Syria.

"The rising toll of civilian deaths and injuries already caused by air strikes" in Deir al-Zor and Raqqa "suggests that insufficient precautions may have been taken in the attacks," he said.

Zeid stressed that civilians are being hit by IS and its opponents.

"The same civilians who are suffering indiscriminate shelling and summary executions by [IS] are also falling victim to the escalating air strikes," his statement said.

Zeid's spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing on Geneva that there are "multiple air forces operating in this part of Syria including the [U.S.-led] coalition, mainly the coalition. We also understand that there are Iraqi airplanes as well."

Colville said the UN rights office has also received credible information that, earlier this month, IS fighters slit the throats of eight people who were accused of providing the coalition coordinates to guide strikes.

"Scant attention is being paid by the outside world to the appalling predicament of the civilians trapped in [IS-held] areas," Zeid said.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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