A senior French military official awaits punishments after revealing how the actions of the US-led coalition in Syria contributed to civilian deaths.
Colonel Francois-Regis Legrier on Monday accused the forces of the so-called anti-EIIL coalition (Daesh, in Arabic) of limiting their own risks, prolonging the conflict and thus ignoring the growing number of civilians killed in eastern Syria.
The officer has been in charge, since October, of directing the artillery of France, one of the main allies of the coalition that supposedly fights against the terrorist group EIIL in Syria and Iraq and that supports the groups led by the Kurds in Syria.
In an article on the website of the National Defence Review, on Saturday the soldier gave the example of the coalition’s operations in Hayin, in the province of Deir Ezzor (east of Syria and near the border with Iraq) where, according to Legrier, they prolonged the conflict unnecessarily and contributed to increasing the number of victims in the population.
“We have massively destroyed the infrastructure (in Hayin) and given the population an unpleasant image of what could be a Western-style liberation,” he lamented.
The colonel’s statements are a rare public criticism by an officer on duty. The article was removed the same day from the website. “Patrick Steiger, a spokesman for the French army, told journalists that “punishment is being considered.
Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his troops from Syria, the country’s Defense Department (the Pentagon) has pressured its partners to send military personnel to the Arab country.
At the end of January, the Pentagon acknowledged that at least 1190 civilians have been killed in coalition attacks in Syria and Iraq over the past three and a half years, although human rights bodies speak of a much higher number.
The government of Syria, whose terrorist struggle is nearing its end, thanks to the help of its allies such as Russia and Iran, demands, for its part, the cessation of the coalition’s attacks in the country, and questions its true objective.