Air strikes carried out by US-led coalition forces killed and wounded many civilians, UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria's report said, adding raids by the SDF, backed by coalition gunships, also apparently violated international law.

A man evacuates a young child after a reported air strike by regime forces and their allies in the town of Maarat al Numan in the southern Idlib province, Syria on May 26, 2019.
A man evacuates a young child after a reported air strike by regime forces and their allies in the town of Maarat al Numan in the southern Idlib province, Syria on May 26, 2019. (AFP)

Air strikes by US-led coalition forces in Syria have killed or wounded many civilians, indicating that required precautions were ignored and war crimes may have been committed, United Nations investigators said on Wednesday.

The Syrian regime and allied Russian warplanes are also conducting a deadly campaign that appears to target medical facilities, schools, markets and farmland and which may also amount to war crimes, the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said.

The investigators also accused Hayat Tahrir al Sham, formerly known as Nusra Front. the dominant armed group in Idlib, of firing rockets indiscriminately and killing civilians.

The eight-year-old war has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and forced 13 million people from their homes, half of whom have left their shattered homeland.

Al Jazeera Storm operation

Backed by US-led coalition airpower in a fight to oust Daesh, the YPG-dominated SDF captured the group's last major stronghold of Hajin in eastern Syria in late December.

YPG is the Syrian arm of the PKK, which is recognised as a terror organisation by the US, EU, and Turkey.

The coalition's Al-Jazeera Storm operation resulted in a high number of civilian casualties, including in a series of strikes on January 3 in Sha'fah, south of Hajin, that killed 16 civilians including 12 children, the UN report said.

"The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that international coalition forces may not have directed their attacks at a specific military objective or failed to do so with the necessary precaution," it said.

"Launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases in which such attacks are conducted recklessly," it added.

Coalition officials could not be reached immediately for comment on the report.

Night raids by SDF forces backed by coalition helicopter gunships killed and wounded civilians in Shahil and other parts of Deir Ezzor province, in further apparent violations of international law, the investigators said.

Regime attacks on Idlib

Syrian regime forces carried out repeated air strikes in Saraqib in northwest Idlib province on March 9, damaging Al Hayat women's and children's hospital despite pro-regime forces being aware of its coordinates, the report said.

In Idlib on May 14, "pro-government forces airdropped between two and four missiles on a fish market and primary school for girls in Jisr al-Shughur", killing at least 8 civilians, it said.

"Such attacks may amount to the war crime of deliberately attacking protected objects and intentionally attacking medical personnel," it said.

The Syrian regime denies its strikes target civilians and says its forces only bomb militants associated with hardline groups linked to al Qaeda.

The report covers the year to July and is based on nearly 300 interviews and analysis of satellite imagery, photographs, and videos.

Source: Reuters