Syrian opposition: US airstrikes on residential areas must stop
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) - a leading Syrian opposition group - has called on the US-led coalition to stop targeting residential areas in and around the Islamic State held city of Raqqa, as advances on the city lead by the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) intensify.
Calls made by the opposition group follow reports that coalition airstrikes on Raqqa, IS' de facto capital, have resulted in civilian casualties in the past week.
In a statement on its website the SNC said that "hundreds" of civilians had been killed in attacks that the opposition group claimed could "amount to war crimes" also calling for an investigation into US-led coalitions airstrikes in war-torn Raqqa province.
"Survivors now have no safe place to go to and are unable to rescue or count the victims of these airstrikes," read the statement.
"The Syrian Coalition is increasingly concerned about civilian deaths in the war on terrorism. The Coalition calls on the US-led coalition forces to make serious efforts to avoid civilian casualties and to stop targeting residential areas under whatever pretext."
The SNC's statement comes at a time when the US has opened investigations into reports that airstrikes conducted in IS held west Mosul in Iraq have also resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths.
As a result of these allegations an "initial agreement" to suspend the use of artillery and airstrikes in Mosul neighbourhoods has been reportedly reached.
The US-led coalition has provided considerable air support to the SDF which on Sunday entered the strategically significant Tabqa military airbase in Raqqa province, battling IS militants in the process. Its forces are also seeking to take the nearby Tabqa dam from IS forces.
On Wednesday, Coalition spokesman Colonel Joseph Scrocca said that three hundred airstrikes had been conducted around Tabqa and to the west of Raqqa, in the last four months.
SDF forces cut the final main road out of Raqqa earlier this month, and are closing in on the city from the north, east and west.
The only exit out of Raqqa now is over the Euphrates south of the city.
A decisive battle for Raqqa is set to begin in April, according to statements from officials within the SDF.