Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Syria: civilians must be protected during the military operations in Raqqa

27th June 2017 | Syria - Humanitarian norms

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The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an armed actor composed of Kurdish and Arabic fighters and supported by an international coalition –  launched a major offensive against the Islamic State group in Raqqa earlier in June.  Around 200,000 people were still living in the city before the launch of this offensive, raising fear of a new humanitarian crisis. Airstrikes and shelling are putting a high number of civilians at risk.

According to different sources, several thousand people have already been displaced while dozens of civilians were killed and many serious allegations of violations of humanitarian norms have been reported.

We call all parties involved in these military operations to do their possible to reduce the impact of the hostilities on civilians” said Mehmet Balci, Geneva Call’s Head of Programme for the Near and Middle East region. “We would like to remind all parties that bombing an area indiscriminately, targeting civilians, houses or hospital, or displacing people forcibly can constitute war crimes”

Geneva Call is having  regular humanitarian dialogue with one of the party to this conflict, the SDF. In November 2016, the SDF issued a humanitarian declaration, based on Geneva Call’s recommendations, in which they publicly committed to respect humanitarian principles to protect civilian populations during armed operations.