At least 48 civilians are reported dead after a white phosphorus attack allegedly carried out by the US-led coalition
Images and video of the attack were uploaded to social media on Saturday
International law bans the use of white phosphorus in residential areas
There are concerns that ISIS may use the 200,000 trapped civilians in Raqqa as human shields
Pictures and videos uploaded to social media claim the US-led coalition is using white phosphorous against civilians in residential areas of Raqqa, Syria. At least 48 civilians have been reported dead, but that number could continue to grow as the rubble clears.
Raqqa Is Burning
Refugee journalist Ali Borsan tweeted out a picture of the attack that read, “#Raqqa_is_burning#Raqqa_being_burnt#الرقة_تحترق#USA and #coalition are killing civilians with no reason i #Raqqah Killing for killing.”
— Ali Borsan (@AliMBorsan) June 10, 2017
Official news agency for ISIS, Amaq News Agency, also shared the images of the suspected white phosphorus attack, stating that “the infidels are exterminating the Muslims and jihadis in Mosul and Raqqa by white phosphorus.” Amaq also claimed that the coalition used white phosphorus during attacks on ISIS’ Iraqi stronghold of Mosul.
White phosphorus is made from a common allotrope used for making smoke, tracer, illumination, and incendiary munitions. When used as an incendiary weapon white phosphorus is pyrophoric (self-igniting), burns furiously, and is able to burn down to the bone if it comes into contact with a human being.
White phosphorus can be used as a smoke screen to cover movement on the ground, mask the origins of fire, or to signal to other troops. International law states that it cannot be used in residential areas due to the severe thermal and chemical burns it can cause when coming in contact with flesh.
Syrian Democratic Forces
Last Tuesday, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab militias, began their long anticipated attack to take back Raqqa from ISIS. SDF is reported to have reclaimed areas on the outskirts of Raqqa City from ISIS.
The International Rescue Committee is concerned for the 200,000 some people who are still trapped in Raqqa, including an unknown number of women and children. The IRC is concerned that ISIS may use the trapped civilians as human shields as SDF troops continue to advance.