140 civilians killed by American and French air strikes in Syria
A man pictured in the rubble of a collapsed building following reported air strikes in Aleppo, northern Syria, on July 17, 2016 (AFP/Thaer Mohammed)
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Airstrikes by the United States and France inside Syria have killed as many as 140 civilians in a northwestern city and on its outskirts over the past couple of days.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that French warplanes had targeted the village of Tukhan al-Kubra in the northern suburb of the city of Manbij in the Aleppo Province, killing 120 civilians.
Tens of other civilians remain unaccounted for following the attack, the ministry added.
It also said American fighters had carried out airstrikes against the city itself on Monday, killing 20 civilians.
Washington and dozens of its allies have been conducting military operations in Syria since September 2014 purportedly against Daesh. The campaign has fallen severely short of dislodging Daesh.
The killing of the 140 civilians came as US Secretary of State John Kerry asked his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to use Russian influence over Syria so Damascus stops its airstrikes against “innocent civilians” in the Aleppo Province.
Washington says such halt would allow the “moderate” militants enough time to leave the provincial capital of the same name.
Lavrov, however, has insisted that the militants had already been given enough time to leave the city.
Last month, Washington likewise asked Moscow to stop conducting airstrikes against al-Nusra Front terrorists in Syria over similar fears that US-backed groups operating nearby would be hit.
Lavrov responded at the time by saying the US was likely seeking to preserve al-Nusra as a tool to unseat Syrian President Assad.
Addressing a statement to the United Nations and its affiliates, the Syrian Foreign Ministry reminded that the US-led airstrikes in Syria were “illegal” considering the fact that Washington does not have Damascus’ permission in launching the campaign or a UN mandate for that matter.
It accused the coalition of pointing its weapons against the “innocent civilians and infrastructure, instead of pointing them to the terrorist groups.”
“Syria stresses that whoever wants to battle the terrorists, must coordinate with the Syrian government,” read the statement.
It said the Western claim that “moderate opposition” forces exist in Syria has become “a shame and unacceptable.”
The US and its allies support the militants that have been fighting the Syrian government since 2011. The arms the countries provide for the militants have on many occasions ended up in the hand of extremist groups, while some of the militants themselves have defected to those groups or have close links with them.
“The United States, Qatar, France, Saudi Arabia and Britain continue supporting the terrorist groups in Syria, which is a clear sign of the involvement of these countries with the terrorist groups,” said the Syrian Foreign Ministry.
The US-led coalition has been backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces, to capture Manbij since last May.
Also on Tuesday, the US-led coalition said in a statement that SDF fighters had captured a Daesh “command center and logistics hub” in western Manbij on Sunday.
It said the fighters had also seized “a significant amount of the city during the operation, which provided civilians the opportunity to escape.”
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