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Time to bring back the proverbial “airport spitters”

The airstrikes at dawn on Tuesday pulverized entire families, including young children — families that were fleeing Islamic State militants but were instead mistaken for being those very fighters. Depending on whom you ask, the number of bodies found in the rubble is 56, 85, 160 or 212.Pictures of the mangled bodies, covered in dust, are a testament to the carnage.

People who live near where the bombs fell — about 10 miles north of Manbij in northern Syria — said the only planes they’d seen since June were from a U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State. The area is just a few miles north of the front line between the Islamic State and the coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). If Tuesday’s airstrikes were indeed by coalition jets, and not Russian or Syrian government warplanes, this would easily be the highest civilian toll from any action by the coalition since it formed in 2014.

Faced with the likelihood of a grave error by the coalition, U.S. officials responded cautiously, emphasising the need to verify what had happened.

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