The United States military denied a recent report that said at least 52 civilians in northern Syria were killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes last week. The authorities also said that those killed in air campaign were in fact militants fighting for the Islamic State group.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), had said in a statement on Saturday that seven children were among the dead from the U.S-led coalition airstrikes that hit the village of Birmahle in the northern Aleppo province on Friday. Rahman had also warned that the death toll could rise as 13 people were still trapped under the rubble.
“US Central Command can confirm that Coalition forces conducted airstrikes in the vicinity of Birmahle, Syria, on April 30, destroying several ISIL fighting positions and striking more than 50 ISIL fighters,” Major Curt Kellogg, a U.S. military spokesman, said in a statement, obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP). “We currently have no indication that any civilians were killed in these strikes.”
Kellogg reportedly said, citing Kurdish forces, who were fighting ISIS fighters in a town nearly one mile from Birmahle at the time of the strikes, that there was no civilian presence in the area for two weeks prior to the coalition airstrikes.
“We have significant mitigation measures in place within the targeting process and during the conduct of operations to reduce the potential risks of collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Kellogg reportedly said in the statement. “We work extremely hard to be precise in the application of our airstrikes and take all allegations of civilian casualties very seriously.”
Last month, SOHR released a report that said the U.S.-led air campaign has killed at least 1,922 ISIS militants, mostly foreign fighters, in Syria since September. The monitoring group also reported that 66 civilians, including 10 children, had also been killed in the airstrikes, which have focused on the country’s central province of Homs, Aleppo in the north, Hasakeh in the northeast, Deir Ezzor to the east and the province of Raqa, known as the center of the extremist group.