The death of dozens of Syrian civilians as a result of airstrikes carried out by the international coalition on northern Manbij has confused the United Nations and the international coalition. As a result, the international coalition hastened to open an investigation to determine who was responsible. An international coalition source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “The investigation has not arrived at a conclusion about who is responsible for the civilian deaths and there is no new news with regards to this matter”.
Whilst the French President Francois Hollande said that he had no knowledge that the planes that bombed civilian populations and killed 56 civilians were French, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces called for “an end to the aerial bombardment on Manbij”. In addition to this, Syrian activists took to social networking sites and tweeted condemnations of the massacre. They also called for the organisation of demonstrations in Syria and Turkey.
Meanwhile, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gave fighters of ISIS a final chance to leave Manbij with their individual light weapons during the next 48 hours. After the deadline has passed, there will be a military operation to uproot them from the city.
The official spokesman for the military council in Manbij and its countryside Shirfan Darwish told Asharq Al-Awsat that “what has been narrated about civilians being targeted contains exaggerations and distortions of the facts”. He said “What happened is that coalition aircraft targeted large crowds of ISIS and its military equipment on the outskirts of the town of Tokhar which led to 87 ISIS fighters being killed. He added that this caused “the martyrdom of a number of civilians because ISIS took dozens of civilians from the village and used them as human shields. We acknowledge that innocent victims were killed and we are sad about this. However the number of civilians killed is not as large as has been reported.”
The French President Francois Hollande said yesterday that he “had no information on whether French aircraft were responsible for the airstrike that killed about 56 civilians in the area surrounding the city of Manbij in northern Syria”.