US-led coalition air strikes in the Syrian provinces of Deir Al Zor and Daesh bastion Raqqa have left 472 civilians dead since May 23, says the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Some 250 civilians, including 53 children, were killed in Raqqa province in US-led strikes.
Some 250 civilians, including 53 children, were killed in Raqqa province in US-led strikes.

US-led coalition air strikes targeting militants in two Syrian provinces have killed 472 civilians over the past month, a war monitor said on Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the period between May 23 and June 23 saw the highest civilian death toll in coalition raids for a single month since they began on September 23, 2014.

SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman said that 222 civilians, including 84 children, were killed in the largely Daesh-held province of Deir Al Zor.

Another 250 civilians, including 53 children, were killed in Raqqa province, where US-backed forces are trying to oust Daesh from their bastion Raqqa city.

He said that the new deaths brought the overall civilian toll from the coalition's campaign to 1,953, including 456 children and 333 women.

Dramatic rise in civilian deaths

The coalition insists it takes every measure to avoid hitting civilians, including by aborting missile strikes at the last moment if a civilian unexpectedly wanders into the target zone.

A statement by the international alliance said its forces "work diligently and deliberately to be precise" in their air strikes.

"Our goal is always for zero civilian casualties," the statement said.

In its most recent report on civilian casualties, released on June 2, the coalition said it had "unintentionally killed" 484 civilians in both Iraq and Syria.

But observers say the number is much higher.

"Annihilation campaign"

Last month, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that President Donald Trump had instructed the Pentagon to "annihilate" Daesh in Syria in a bid to prevent foreign fighters from returning home.

Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to quickly defeat Daesh, signed an executive order soon after taking office giving his generals 30 days to come up with a revised plan to wipe Daesh out.

The review resulted in the new "annihilation campaign" and saw commanders gain greater autonomy to make battlefield decisions.

Source: AFP