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USA withdraws 400 marines from Syrian Kurdistan

USA withdraws 400 marines from Syrian Kurdistan

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the Marine artillery battery was the most significant combat element deployed by the Americans on the ground, bolstering the impact of United States and coalition air power.

Monitoring groups say the number of civilian casualties from airstrikes in the fight against Daesh is far higher.

Since the beginning of the campaign, which is an effort to bring down Isis militants, the coalition has been responsible for the carrying out of over 28,000 strikes and has received 1,790 reports of potential civilian casualties, according to the report.

Airwars, which monitors coalition airstrikes, has previously stated that at least 5,961 civilians had been killed by the strikes.

In Thursday's coalition report, the coalition assessed 66 reports of casualties, 55 of which it deemed "non-credible" for reasons including insufficient information to assess the allegation and no coalition strikes being conducted where the casualties were alleged.

An investigation by Middle East Eye last month revealed that British planes dropped 3,400 bombs in Syria and Iraq. After a US airstrike in Mosul was blamed for killing at least 105 civilians in March, Iraqi and USA commanders said they would change tactics to try to minimize casualties among the city's thousands of residents.

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Samuel Oakford, a spokesperson for Airwars, told MEE: "The UK's claim that no British air strikes in Iraq or Syria have led to civilian deaths has always been hard to believe".

The coalition added that it always goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties.

"As the campaign continues into its fourth year and more data about British involvement such as this is compiled, the MoD's claim is becoming increasingly absurd".

Earlier this month, the New York Times published the results of an 18-month, on-the-ground investigation that said one in five of the coalition strikes it identified resulted in at least one civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition.

The two primary targets of the coalition, Raqqa and Mosul, have both now been liberated from IS.

More than 400 US Marines are to leave Syria after helping to capture the city of Raqqa from so-called Islamic State.