A suspected US air strike on a school being used as a shelter by families displaced from the Isil-held Syrian city of Raqqa killed at least 33 people on Tuesday, in the latest high civilian casualty raid by the coalition.
A school being used by some 50 families in Mansoura, 15 miles from the capital of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)’s so-called caliphate, was leveled by airstrikes on Tuesday morning.
The death toll is expected to rise, according to local activists, who said bodies were still being pulled from the rubble and many families were unaccounted for.
The nearest Isil installation to the site of the air strike was a religious school two miles away, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“All remaining hospitals in the countryside have been rendered inoperable,” said one activist from the anti-Isil group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
“The international coalition indiscriminately bombs the city, civilians expect their death coming down from the sky.”
A coalition raid on a mosque outside the city of Aleppo last Thursday evening left as many as 46 dead, making it the deadliest for civilians alleged against the coalition since it began its campaign against Isil two years ago.
They said the mosque had not been their target, saying they had intended to hit a building nearby which was being used as a meeting place for al-Qaeda-linked rebel fighters.
Earlier this month, the coalition said its raids in Syria and Iraq and unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians. But other monitors say the number is far higher. Airwars, a UK-based organisation which monitors international air strikes against Isil, suggested as many as 370 civilian deaths could be attributed to coalition raids in the first week of March alone.
— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_SL) March 22, 2017
The White House is considering lifting rules of engagement enacted by the Obama administration that sought to avoid civilian deaths.
The coalition has stepped up its air campaign in recent months as it prepares for a ground assault to retake the strategic Syrian city from the jihadists.
Top officials from the 68-nation alliance fighting Isil are set to meet in Washington later today to hear more about US President Donald Trump’s plan to destroy the jihadists’ remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Since taking office, Mr Trump has increased the number of US advisers on the ground in Syria as part of his promise to eradicate Islamist terror in the war-torn country.