THE US and its allies have been accused of showing little regard for civilians’ lives while attacking the Syrian city that was the de-facto capital of Islamic State in 2017.

Amnesty International said the US-led coalition’s assault on Raqqa killed hundreds of civilians and reduced sections of the city to rubble.

Amnesty researchers interviewed more than 100 residents and visited 42 coalition targets in the city in a two-week period in February.

Their report was named War of Annihilation – referencing language used by US defence secretary Jim Mattis prior to the campaign.

“When so many civilians are killed in attack after attack, something is clearly wrong,” said Donatella Rovera, one of the researchers who visited the city.

US army colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the coalition, called the assertions “grossly inaccurate”.

He said the coalition and allied Syrian forces organised safe passages for residents to flee, but Daesh militants trapped them inside to use as human shields.

“When you have an enemy that uses non-combatants as collateral damage, it’s very difficult when you fight an enemy like that to completely avoid any casualties,” Ryan said.

Benjamin Walsby, another investigator on the Amnesty team, said the coalition should have adjusted its strategy accordingly.

“If you rely on long-range tactics like artillery and air strikes, then civilians are very likely to pay the price, and that appears to be what happened in Raqqa,” he said.

The battle for Raqqa, once a city of 200,000 people, played out over four harrowing months in 2017, with the coalition playing a supporting role as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces fought street by street.

Wave after wave of air strikes and shell fire were unleashed until the last of the militants left Raqqa in October 2017

The coalition has acknowledged responsibility for 32 civilian deaths in Raqqa between June and October, while saying it is still investigating open cases.

Amnesty’s report said hundreds of civilians were killed, while the Airwars monitoring group said it has evidence of 1400 fatalities.