Thousands #PrayForSyria As Outrage Ensues After US-Led Airstrikes 'Mistakenly' Hit Civilian Area In Manbij, Syria

Civilians were mistaken for Islamist militants, rights group says.

21/07/2016 10:49

The alleged accidental killing of at least 56 Syrian civilians in US-led airstrikes on Tuesday has sparked international outrage.

Investigators are looking into the airstrikes which targeted the besieged Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 56 dead included 11 children and that dozens more people were wounded.

The observatory said the strikes appeared to have been carried out in error, with civilians mistaken for Islamist militants.

Tuesday’s airstrike is not the first time the US may have mistakenly targeted a civilian area.

Last year an Afghan hospital was bombed, resulting in deaths of 13 staff at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) facility and 10 patients - three of whom were children.

#PrayForSyria was trending on Twitter on Thursday as thousands reacted to the civilian deaths.

Many people lambasted the alleged “mistake” made by the US-led coalition, with some reporting that civilian casualties from the strike had reached 85.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a statement that the US-led coalition must do more to prevent civilian deaths.

“Anyone responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be brought to justice and victims and their families should receive full reparation,” Amnesty’s interim Middle East director Magdalena Mughrabi said, Reuters reports.

Manbij has been the focus of US military action in previous weeks. Footage shows airstrikes hitting five Isis targets simultaneously earlier this month.

Many people drew parallels between the deaths in the Syrian city of Manbij and those killed in Nice last week.

The terror attack in Nice resulted in the deaths of 84 people, with scores more being hospitalised.

The lack of global attention on the Syria has led some to question how much “value” the world puts on the lives of those outside the West.

Powerful images were shared depicting the focus of the world’s attention.

The observatory said at least 104 civilians have died from air strikes since the start of the Manbij offensive in late May.

Syria’s main opposition body, the High Negotiations Committee, criticised both the US-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) and the coalition, which it blamed for what it said were hundreds of civilian deaths around Manbij.

“The lives of Syrian civilians are being lost in their hundreds whilst there is a deafening international silence,” it said in a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Colonel Chris Garver, a spokesman for the US coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, said it was looking into reports of civilian deaths but was being “extraordinarily careful to make sure” air strikes were killing IS fighters.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently voiced concern for the roughly 70,000 civilians believed to be trapped between warring parties in Manbij.

“Civilians have...reportedly been killed if they leave their homes or attempt to flee.

“Families are unable to access local cemeteries to bury their relatives who have died or been killed, and are burying them in their gardens or keeping the corpses in bunkers,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

“The town has no electricity or water at present, and no medical facilities are known to be operating. As the SDF closes in on the city, (Islamic State) has not permitted civilians to leave the area.”

Suggest a correction