On Tuesday, 25 November 2014, Syrian regime warplanes brutally attacked the Syrian city of Raqqa's city centers, killing at least 95 people, the majority of whom were civilians. These indiscriminate and barbaric attacks focused on civilian men, women and children – not Islamic State extremists. The Syrian regime is clearly co-opting the US-led coalition's anti-ISIL airstrikes to slaughter civilians and consolidate its brutal dictatorship.
To allow Syrian regime aircrafts to target civilians inside the anti-ISIL area of operations is to allow the deliberate killing of civilians within airspace in which US and its partners' aircrafts are operating. Syrian regime aircrafts must not be allowed to conduct airstrikes in Raqqa or anywhere else in Syria. Where Syrian aircrafts enter the US-led coalition's areas of operations, international forces must respond decisively to save innocent lives, including by shooting down Syrian regime aircrafts if they refuse to heed warnings to exit the area.
The Syrian regime is responsible for the rise of ISIL, and it can have no role in its destruction. It has neither the record of responsible military action, nor the legitimacy to strike any targets anywhere inside Syria. Its efforts over the past four years to kill, torture and starve Syrians into submission have fomented the rise of extremism and turned Syria into a safe-haven for ISIL terrorists. Since the start of international airstrikes in Syria on 22 September 2014, the Syrian regime has systematically intensified its attacks on Syria's moderate majority rather than on ISIL, and indiscriminately targeted opposition-held areas. Yesterday's barbaric attack on Raqqa is further evidence of that.
As the international community works to eradicate the foreign terrorist threat in Syria, it must also ensure the safety of Syrian civilians. With more than 12 million Syrians in want of food, water and medicine, the need for the protection of innocent men, women and children remains acute. The Syrian National Coalition therefore welcomes calls by France and others in the international community demanding the creation of safe zones, which will protect Syrian civilians both from ISIL extremists and the Syrian regime, and allow for the development of stable, moderate governance.