As the US-backed military operations in Syria’s Raqqa against ISIS continue, more than 20 civilians were killed in airstrikes by the US-led coalition, according to war monitor.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, is supported by the US as the latter uses them in its war against ISIS.
Air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition and a long fight by the SDF forces ended in recapturing Manbij from the control of the Islamic State (ISIS) group last year.
The SDF, backed by US coalition, launched also a campaign with the ultimate aim of capturing Raqqa in November and succeeded in encircling the city. Recently, they launched an assault on Deir Ezzor province to cut the road to Raqqa and surrounding ISIS effectively and were able to achieve this goal after fierce clashes.
In addition to the US-backed military operations against ISIS in Iraq, the human losses were huge in both Syria and Iraq as the coalition warplanes killed hundreds of civilians while trying to bomb the terrorist group.
Civilians killed by the US in Syria
At least 23 civilians, including eight children, were killed near Raqqa in eastern Syria by the airstrikes.
The fighter jets that carried out the strikes were believed to belong to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) armed group, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
“The raids hit the village of al-Matab after midnight and were likely carried out by the coalition,” according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory.
At least six women were also among the dead in al-Matab, which lies near a key road linking Raqqa – ISIL’s de facto capital – to Deir Ezzor city, the capital of the adjacent oil-rich province.
One week before this happened, another coalition attack targeting the Tokhar area of Manbij killed at least 120 Syrian civilians, according to SOHR and local activists, in one of the highest death tolls from coalition air strikes yet.
How many were really killed?
The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq said earlier this month that its raids had unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians since 2014 in both countries.
Critics say the real number is much higher.
Amnesty International said in October 2016 that the US-led coalition has killed at least 300 civilians in Syria.
“In its backing of anti-Isis ground forces during this summer’s Manbij campaign, the US-led coalition killed some 250 or more civilians, and yet it does not acknowledge them,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty’s researcher for Syria.
It is a conservative toll compared with estimates from other monitoring groups, which put the number of deaths from coalition bombing at 600 to 1,000. The monitoring groups include the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Violations Documentation Centre.
However, the US administration stick to their story and numbers.
US Central Command, which leaders Operation Inherent Resolve, confirmed 21 civilian deaths in nine new incidents in its latest round of investigations.
“We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives resulting from coalition efforts to defeat Isis in Iraq and Syria and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes,” a spokesperson said.
The deadliest single strike was in Mosul on 13 January, where investigators found eight civilians were “unintentionally killed” in an operation targeting Isis fighters in a house.
Anyway, the US administration say that they tke every measure to assure their forces don’t kill civilians by mistake.
“Although the Coalition takes extraordinary efforts to strike military targets in a manner that minimises the risk of civilian casualties, in some incidents casualties are unavoidable,” a spokesperson for said.
“In each of the incidents, the investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the Law of Armed Conflict, unintended civilian casualties unfortunately occurred.”
The US administration admitted it was unable to “fully investigate all reports of possible civilian casualties using traditional investigative methods, such as interviewing witnesses and examining the site”, saying it instead interviews pilots, reviews strike footage and analyses information from partner forces, governments, humanitarian groups, traditional and social media.
All confirmed incidents so far were authorised under Barack Obama’s administration, while a similar strategy is expected to continue under Donald Trump.