Deash uses Syrians as human shields in Manbij: US official

July 23, 2016 6:00 pm

A Syrian man carries a child who
was retrieved under the rubble of a collapsed building following a
airstrike on Sakhur in the northern city of Aleppo on July 19, 2016. ©
AFP

A US military spokesman says
have been using thousands of Syrians as human shields
in the battle in the northern city of Manbij
, where
dozens of civilians were killed this week in the US airstrikes, which
were carried out despite reports of civilian presence among the
terrorists.

The Baghdad-based spokesman for the US-led
coalition, Colonel Chris Garver, said on Friday that the terrorist group
“used civilians as human shields and as bait” in an effort to draw the
fire of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) toward the people.
The
SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, has moved “slowly and
deliberately” through western Manbij and toward the city’s center, where
at least “a couple thousand” civilians remain trapped by the
terrorists, he said
Garver said the coalition received both
internal and external reports “that there may have been civilians in the
area who are mixed in and among the Daesh fighters.” He said that the
presence of the civilians has complicated the operations to capture the
strategic town of Manbij.
At least 140 civilians were killed in French and US airstrikes in Manbij on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We
apply an extraordinary amount of rigor into 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,” he claimed.
On Thursday, opposition groups in
 called on the US and allies to suspend airstrikes  until an
investigation is completed into the deaths.

People
look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a
reported air strike on Syria’s northern city of Aleppo on July 19, 2016.
© AFP
 Local sources, however said the
warplanes continue to hit targets in al-Nawajah village east of Manbij
on Saturday, leaving at least 15 people dead or injured.
Garver
said the Pentagon is continuing a “credibility assessment” of the
reports of civilian deaths. That initial investigation should be
completed in about the next 10 days.
The US-led coalition has been
backing the Syrian Democratic Forces to capture Manbij since last May.
The coalition has conducted more than 500 airstrikes near the city since
the SDF launched its operation.
Since March 2011, the United
States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and
Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against Syria.
The
conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the
country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the
Arab country’s borders.
In September 2014, the US and some of its
allies started conducting airstrikes inside Syria against Daesh
terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA to fight
against the Syrian government.

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