Defense

Air Strikes Against ISIS Continue During Investigation Over Alleged Civilian Deaths

REUTERS/Rodi Said

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Airstrikes against the Islamic State will continue despite ongoing investigations into a U.S. strike that allegedly killed 56 civilians in Syria, according to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Carter reassured allies and partners participating in Operation Inherent Resolve that the U.S. will continue to support the fight against ISIS during a press briefing at the Pentagon Monday. U.S. forces were accused of accidentally killing 56 civilians in an air strike on Tokhar on July 19, a town near the ISIS stronghold of Manbij, Syria. Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, Army Col. Chris Garver, announced shortly after the attack that the U.S. military was looking into reports of the civilian deaths, noting forces were being “extraordinarily careful to make sure” civilians were not targeted.

Carter’s announcement comes after Syrian National Coalition (SNC) president Anas al-Abdah called for a temporary halt to U.S. airstrikes in Syria while the allegation is investigated.

“It is essential that such investigation not only result in revised rules of procedure for future operations, but also inform accountability for those responsible for such major violations,” wrote al-Abdah in a letter to the foreign ministers of various coalition countries Friday.

The allegation of civilian deaths comes at a crucial time in the fight against ISIS. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a conglomeration of most Kurdish militias, are on the precipice of retaking Manbij in northern Syria, while the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are besieging Mosul, the de facto ISIS capital in Iraq.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Carter during the briefing and told reporters that the “noose has been tightening” on ISIS, and Carter added that U.S. forces are currently “martialing.”

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