At least 85 civilians were killed Tuesday after an airstrike near the ISIL-controlled city of Manbij, Syria in what may have been the deadliest airstrike since the beginning of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State.
The Pentagon has confirmed reports of civilian casualties around Manbij. “We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties in the area,” U.S. Marine Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesperson, stated in an e-mail. “As with any allegation we receive, we will review any information we have about the incident, including information provided by third parties, such as the proximity of the location to CJTF [Combined Joint Task Force] airstrikes, and any other relevant information presented.”
“If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, we will then determine the next appropriate step,” he added. “We take all measures during the targeting process to avoid or minimize civilian casualties or collateral damage and to comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict.”
According to The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (or SDF) the airstrike appears to have occurred after U.S. coalition forces “mistook them for ISIL.” At least 8 families were indiscriminately hit as they were attempting to flee the war zone.
The non-profit organization known as Airwars , which tracks claims of civilian casualties resulting from the international air campaign against ISIS, states that as investigations continue the death toll may prove to be well over 100 civilians.
This incident reportedly followed a separate airstrike which occurred on Sunday that killed at least 6 civilians in Manbij, “including a woman with four of her children and an old man.” These airstrike are among the 450 airstrikes in the area executed by U.S.-led coalition forces during the latest military campaign.
Airwars has estimated that at least 190 civilians have been killed in coalition strikes since the beginning of the operation, including at least 39 children and 23 women. However, revelations of this most recent bombing are still coming to light, and an account from the non-profit organization known as Syria Direct claim the strike may have killed anywhere from 65 to 160 civilians.
The United Nations estimates that at least 400,000 people in total have died since the international bombing campaign against ISIS began.