US-led coalition admits killing dozens of civilians in Syria’s Manbij

US-led coalition admits killing civilians in Syria's Manbij
150 civilians were killed last week by US-led airstrikes

At least 120 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led airstrikes against Manbij and Jarablas towns that are held by the Islamic State, activists said. The US-led coalition’s spokesman acknowledged the news on Friday.

The raids, which were to target ISIS’ buildings and vehicles, were reported to have attacked “civilians” used by ISIS as human shields.

“The incident is being looked into to determine what we can about that strike.  During that portion of the fight, our Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) partner force observed a large group of  ISIS fighters in a convoy who appeared to be readying for a counter attack against SAC troops in the area, and a strike was called in on ISIS. The strike was against both buildings and vehicles. “Afterwards, we received reports from several sources, both internal and external, that there may have been civilians in the area who are mixed in and among the ISIS fighters.

“As per our procedure, we are reviewing all available evidence to determine if the information we have is credible enough to warrant a formal investigation.

“As we have discussed many times, we apply an extraordinary amount of rigor into our strike clearance procedures to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage and to comply with the principles of the law of armed conflict,” Christopher Garver said in a press conference held on Baghdad on Friday and added that the coalition will update the press as more information becomes available.

Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of mainly Kurdish fighters backed by the US, launched an offensive against ISIS to retake the city of Manbij in May. Kurdish militias aim at controlling Manbij to complete their control over northern Syria and pave the way to their autonomy goal.

They have besieged the town and are advancing to the city centre under the cover of air strikes by the US-led international coalition.

Massacre by US-led airstrikes

“Horrible massacre was committed by the US-led coalition. Civilians were killed en masse. There were innumerable bodies lying on the ground. I could not believe the way in which civilians were slaughtered,” Orient News correspondent quoted a witness who was in the scene of the massacre as saying.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washinton, said that at least one town near the city of Manbij was allegedly hit by a coalition strike and that many of the casualties were reportedly women and children.

“The US central command has confirmed to Al Jazeera that it was conducting air strikes in the area and says it needs to investigate allegations of whether civilians were injured or killed in this incident.”

Director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel-Rahman told DPA news agency: “We believe that the raids which were carried out Tuesday were by US [or] allied planes.”