MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on allies fighting Islamic State insurgents to avoid civilian casualties in Syria by all costs, Ban’s spokesperson Farhan Haq said Thursday.
“The Secretary-general believes that any efforts to have any kind of military operations inside Syria need to be undertaken with the steps to ensure that there is an absolute minimization of civilian casualties,” Farhan Haq said in response to a journalist’s question.
The question cited the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is a UK-based rights watchdog, as saying that US-led airstrikes in Syria have so far killed 521 Islamic State fighters and 32 civilians.
“We hope and expect that all member states trying to involve themselves in the activity in the area will do so in order to protect civilians and therefore take all steps to make sure that civilian casualties are at the minimum,” Farhan Haq said.
He added that the United Nations had been urging that the civilian Kurdish population in and around the Syrian border town of Kobani be protected.
The IS, which is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has fought the Syrian government since 2012. It extended attacks to north and west Iraq in June and declared the creation of an Islamic caliphate.
Its rapid advance prompted US President Barack Obama to call on allies to form a multinational coalition, which currently comprises some 60 member states from the European Union, Persian Gulf and beyond. The group has been carrying out airstrikes against IS positions in northern Iraq and Syria, zeroing in on the area around Kobani.