Pentagon: US investigating coalition airstrike that killed civilians in Syria

Published July 28th, 2016 - 10:30 GMT
A Syrian man reacts as rescuers look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhur in Aleppo on July 19, 2016. (AFP/Thaer Mohammed)
A Syrian man reacts as rescuers look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhur in Aleppo on July 19, 2016. (AFP/Thaer Mohammed)

A US-led coalition’s probe found credible allegations about an airstrike that caused civilian deaths near Manbij, Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

Col. Chris Garver told reporters at the Pentagon via a video conference that the coalition has initiated a credibility assessment of civilian casualties caused by two airstrikes last week.

According to Garver, an informal probe into an airstrike near the northern city of Manbij on July 20 is complete and found “the information available was credible enough to warrant formal investigation.”

The spokesman said the coalition has initiated the formal investigation.

Responding to a question about the number of casualties, Garver said the coalition is checking all open and internal sources but according to the coalition, the number of civilians killed ranges from 15 - 75.

Some media outlets from the region wrote last week that more than 160 civilians were killed in the airstrikes.

Another allegation is from July 23 of a strike in the village of al-Nawaja, located to the east of Manbij, Garver said.

He added that the credibility assessment into this airstrike continues.

According to Garver, as most of these strikes occur in contested areas, U.S. forces on the ground are not involved in most of the site inspections of those probes.

He also updated reporters about the fight in and around Manbij where U.S.-backed Syrian Arab Coalition and other forces under the umbrella of Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel alliance led by PYD and YPG militants.

According to Garver, the Syrian Arab Coalition has “appealed to Daesh via social media to allow civilians safe passage from the city.

“To date, we have not seen any action from Daesh, including indicating agreement,” he said. “We have not seen an increase in civilians leaving the center of the city.”

He added that rebels have recovered “the massive amounts of intelligence materials”, including four terabytes of digital information, from the parts of the city they cleared of Daesh militants.

Of the four terabytes of digital information, Garver said: “We have learned more specifically about how Daesh received, trained, used and dispatched foreign terrorist fighters.”

He also updated reporters about the fight against Daesh in and around Manbij, a key city which Syrian Arab Coalition, and some other elements under the umbrella of Syrian Democratic Forces try to capture from the militant group. But, he noted that there were no specific lines of connection between the information they recovered and the recent attacks in other parts of the world for which Daesh claimed responsibility.


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