MESOP CENTCOM FLASH : US investigating reports coalition airstrikes killed civilians in Manbij

By Rudaw – 30 July 2016 –  ERBIL, Kurdistan Region–The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Friday that the US military is investigating reports that a coalition airstrike caused a large number of civilian casualties in Manbij, Syria on Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights conflict monitor reported on Thursday that some 28 people, seven of them children, were killed in airstrikes in Ghandour, a village just north of Manbij city. The US has carried out airstrikes in that area in the last 24 hours.

They are flying airstrikes in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Manbij. They have the city surrounded but ISIS remains in the city center, where many civilians are trapped and prevented from leaving by the militants, who are using civilians as human shields.

Over a week ago the SDF had offered ISIS militants in Manbij an ultimatum, if they withdrew from the city in a 48 hour time-frame they would be allowed safe passage out and even permitted to take their light weaponry with them. ISIS declined that offer.

Thursday’s incident comes after the US coalition said last week that it was investigating similar reports that coalition airstrikes were responsible for civilian deaths in the Manbij area.

The SDF acknowledges that there have been unfortunate civilian casualties but denied the large numbers being reported, and claimed that some reports circulating of large numbers of civilians killed have been fabricated by terrorist organizations to undermine the SDF’s campaign.

The US has said it will not suspend its airstrikes in the area, despite the reports of civilian deaths.