US-led coalition spokesman to ARA News: We won’t reduce anti-ISIS airstrikes in Manbij

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Colonel Christopher Garver. File photo

ARA News 

QAMISHLI – The US-led coalition will not slow down their air campaign in Manbij after the alleged deaths of civilians in airstrikes, and will continue to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbij against ISIS militants.

In an exclusive interview with ARA News, US-led coalition spokesman Colonel Christopher Garver said: “The Coalition will not reduce the use of air strike capabilities in the campaign to defeat ISIL. Coalition airstrikes are the most precise in the history of warfare.” 

“Mitigating civilian casualties is a key component of the air campaign and is why we use precision weapons,” he said.

“We take great care, from analysis of available intelligence to selection of the appropriate weapons to meet mission requirements to minimize the risk of collateral damage, particularly any potential harm to civilians,” the official said.

Barak Barfi, a research fellow at the New America Foundation, told ARA News that there was a possibility that the US-led coalition will slow down their airstrikes, after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights accused the US-led coalition of killing dozens of civilians last Monday.

“The Americans are very sensitive to civilian casualties in air strikes and the negative effect they have in generating local support for the fight against ISIS,” Barfi said. “In the wake of Monday’s tragedy, there is a good chance they will temporarily slow their pace until the anger has passed,” he said.

But the US-led coalition says the airstrikes never stopped. Even though Turkey temporarily closed air space last week around the US base in Incirlik.

“Coalition airstrikes have never stopped. U.S. and Coalition forces continue to work diligently to be precise in our airstrikes,” Colonel Garver told ARA News.

“U.S. and Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict and take all feasible precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to non-combatants,” he added.

“We apply very rigorous standards in our targeting process to avoid or to minimize civilian casualties. We take great care to minimize the risk of collateral damage, particularly any potential harm to non-combatants,” he concluded.

Last Thursday, the leadership of the SDF and the Manbij Military Council gave ISIS 48 hours deadline to leave the city, in order to save civilian lives. However, on Saturday heavy clashes resumed in the centre of Manbij city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured over 50 per cent of the city since the campaign started launched on 31 May.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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