Amnesty International: US Coalition Has Killed at Least 300 Civilians in Syria
October 26, 2016 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Emma Graham-Harrison /The Guardian
Amnesty International has issued a new statement warning that the US needs to do more to prevent civilian casualties in its coalition airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, and cautioned the US has dramatically under-reported the number of civilians killed in their air war. AI says more must be done to prevent fatalities and calls for independent investigations into possible violations of international law.
Amnesty International: US Coalition
Has Killed at Least 300 Civilians in Syria Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 25, 2016) -- Amnesty International has issued a new statement warning that the US needs to do more to prevent civilian casualties in its coalition airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, and cautioned the US has dramatically under-reported the number of civilians killed in their air war.
The new report centered on Syria, noting that the US-led coalition had killed at least 300 civilians in Syria, and had not admitted to the vast majority of those slain. They reported the US had killed around 250 civilians just in the city of Manbij and the surrounding area.
The US backed a Kurdish invasion of Manbij earlier this past summer, and conducted several major airstrikes in the surrounding areas, including some which killed scores of civilians. As Amnesty pointed out, the US has not officially included any civilians from the Manbij strikes on their official count, despite the incidents being well established.
Amnesty warned that the lack of official recognition raised concerns that the US had not made any corrections to their policy, and that this was particularly concerning with the ongoing invasion of the city of Mosul, which is many times larger and expected to be an even longer conflict.
The Pentagon has only acknowledged a few dozen civilian deaths in both Iraq and Syria combined. The Amnesty report, while drastically higher, is still considered very conservative, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights putting the US-caused civilian death toll in Syria between 600 and 1,000.
DOHUK (October 25, 2016) – The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria has killed at least 300 civilians in airstrikes, and must do more to prevent further civilian deaths as the battle for Mosul intensifies in neighbouring Iraq, Amnesty International has warned.
More than half of the victims identified in a new report by the rights group, which looked at deaths over the two years since western forces joined the fight against Isis in Syria, were killed during the fight for the city of Manbij.
It is important the lessons from those deaths are learned as a broad coalition of troops backed by US air power and special forces push towards Mosul, a much bigger city that is still home to around 600,000 civilians, the group says.
"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.
"We fear that since it is not recognising or learning from such mistakes that in the campaign for Mosul, which is far greater than Manbij, the coalition is on course to kill even greater numbers of civilians and risk a serious backlash."
The rights group spent months carrying out witness interviews, collecting photographic and video evidence, analysing satellite images and reviewing reports from local activists to determine the total number of deaths.
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.
Only a handful of deaths have been acknowledged by the coalition in its attacks in Syria. Amnesty is calling for more precautions before attacks, and independent investigations into possible violations of international law.
"We fear the US-led coalition is significantly underestimating the harm caused to civilians in its operations in Syria," said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International's Beirut office.
"Some of these attacks may constitute disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks . . . It's high time the US authorities came clean about the full extent of the civilian damage caused by coalition attacks in Syria."
Three attacks near Manbij this summer were particularly deadly, killing more than 100 civilians, at least a third of them children. One of the attacks is being investigated by US authorities.
The scale of deaths is lower than from bombing raids by Russia, the other foreign power to have sent its jets to Syria. Russian raids have killed at least 3,600 civilians in just over a year and appear to have targeted civilians, while the coalition has been trying to avoid or limit civilian casualties, although it could do far more, human rights groups said.
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