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Centcom Assessing If Airstrike in Syria Accidently Claimed Civilian Lives

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2016 — U.S. Central Command has begun an assessment to determine if a U.S. airstrike yesterday near Manbij, Syria, resulted in unintentional civilian deaths, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.

“That assessment is still in its early phase and we do not have all the facts at this time and we do not have any conclusions,” the press secretary said.

The assessment was prompted by Centcom's internal reporting, he said, adding that the assessment “only highlights the seriousness with which our forces take the issue of civilian casualties and the obligation to protect innocent lives on the battlefield.”

The United States and its coalition partners have taken exceptional measures to minimize the risk to civilians in the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant, he said.

Serious Issues

“It's important to contrast the seriousness with which we treat these issues, the care we take to protect innocent lives and our accountability and transparency with the enemy that we are fighting,” Cook said.

“ISIL has launched a series of attacks in Iraq and Syria in which civilian deaths were not an unintended consequence; civilian deaths were the intent,” he said.

ISIL, Cook said, “has proudly claimed responsibility for attacks just this month that have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including the July 4th attack in Baghdad that killed more than 140 people, and a bombing just this week in Al-Qamishli, Syria, that killed more than 40.”

ISIL has also claimed responsibility for horrific terror attacks Iraq and Syria, he added.

“We will continue to work hard every day to execute our mission, while doing our best to minimize the risk to innocent civilians, and to be transparent and accountable about those efforts,” Cook said. “We do not expect ISIL to do the same.”

There have been a total of 202 allegations of civilian casualties during Operation Inherent Resolve, according to a DoD spokesman.

Of those 202 allegations, 143 were deemed to be not credible. Of those deemed credible, 23 allegations remain open and 36 have been closed. The 36 closed allegations resulted in the announcement of a total of 55 civilian deaths and 29 civilian injuries, the spokeman said.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoDNews)

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