With growing disquiet among their allies over a Tuesday morning flurry of airstrikes that killed scores, and potentially hundreds, of innocent civilians around the Syrian city of Manbij, the US was facing calls from its own allies within Syria to immediately suspend their air campaign for the sake of an investigation.
US officials, however, insist that’s not going to happen, with Army Col. Christopher Garver insisting that the US airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria will continue unchanged despite the reports of huge civilian casualties.
It’s perhaps unsurprising, as the US rarely reacts to their most glaring blunders with actual policy changes, instead doubling down and offering a series of blanket denials and flimsy excuses for what happened, and spurning any suggestion of a change being necessary.
Col. Garver is already crafting excuses, insisting today that Manbij is a special case because of “the strategic importance of the city,” and accusing ISIS of forcing the civilians into the line of US fire “as a propaganda tool.”
While the US has often made similar claims that enemies are intentionally trying to get civilians killed in US attacks, US policy seems only too willing to oblige, and in Manbij alone the US is racking up such a horrendously large civilian death toll that the rebel force they’re supposedly supporting, the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), is said to be facing a growing number of fighters threatening to leave just because they don’t want to be seen as affiliated with the US.
Adding to the sense that this is just business as usual, Col. Garver warned that preliminary investigations into the killings could take quite a bit of time, and even then it’s uncertain if it will lead to a “formal inquiry.” Most incidents of human rights groups confirming US forces killing civilians in Iraq and Syria never get that far, with the Pentagon simply writing them off as “not credible” and never counting them in their minuscule official toll.