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Battle-tested US Marines heading back from Syria - coalition

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (KUNA) -- Some battle-tested Marines are heading to the US soon, where they supported Coalition partner forces with precise artillery strikes in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Raqqah, Syria, it was announced Thursday.
The US-led coalition said in a statement that "with the city liberated and (IS) on the run, the unit has been ordered home. Its replacements have been called off." Over 400 Marines and their M777 howitzers supported Coalition forces, "isolating Raqqah as Syrian Democratic Forces seized ISIS' so-called capital city." "The departure of these outstanding Marines is a sign of real progress in the region," said CJTF-OIR director of operations, Jonathan Braga.
He added "we're drawing down combat forces where it makes sense, but still continuing our efforts to help Syrian and Iraqi partners maintain security." He affirmed "our remaining forces will continue to work by, with, and through partner forces to defeat remaining (IS), prevent a re-emergence of (IS)." Meanwhile, the coalition said in a separate report that in the month of October, over 519 open reports of possible civilian casualties from previous months were carried out and 240 new reports resulting from Coalition strikes (artillery or air) in support of partner force operations to defeat IS were received.
It indicated that during this period, the Coalition completed the assessment of 64 reports, out of which "55 were assessed to be non-credible, four were assessed to be duplicates of previous reports, and five were assessed to be credible, resulting in 15 unintentional civilian deaths." It added to date, based on information available, it is assessed that "at least 801 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve. A total of 695 reports are still open." Also during the period of 2014 and October 2017, the total number of reports of possible civilian casualties was 1,790. The total number of credible reports of civilian casualties during this time period was 199, the report noted. (end) si