US says airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have killed at least 20 civilians since fallThe Guardian
Announcement is part of a ‘transparency’ initiative by the US military but human rights groups claim the tally is as high as 1,100 during the same time period
US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have killed at least 20 civilians and injured 11 more since fall 2015, the US military announced Friday. The deaths are part of an almost two-year campaign against Islamic State militants in the two countries.
The announcement is part of a “transparency” initiative by the military. The newly announced civilian deaths do not include 16 more announced in January.
“The Coalition takes all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties during the course of military operations,” Centcom said in an announcement. The announcement of civilian casualties is part of an internal investigation.
“Although the strikes complied with the law of armed conflict and all appropriate precautions were taken, civilian casualties unfortunately did occur.”
Since March 2014, when coalition forces began an air operation against Isis militants, coalition forces have conducted 11,000 strikes, nearly 9,000 by the US. The majority, about 5,400, have been in Iraq.
The 20 deaths announced Friday are well below tallies issued by human rights groups. For example, Airwar, an observation group, estimates that closer to 1,100 civilians have been killed. The Guardian has made formal information requests to determine how Central Command distinguishes civilians from militants, as well as any internal inquiries into civilian deaths.
The majority of the deaths announced Friday took place between September 2015 and the end of the year.
In September, two civilians were killed and four injured in Kubaysah, Iraq, when their vehicle drove into the target area where bombs had already been fired. In October and November, strikes in and around Hawija, Iraq, killed eight civilians when the US-led coalition mortared a structure, and another two were killed when an Isis vehicle pulled near a building after a weapon was fired at the vehicle.
In December, strikes killed one civilian near Raqqa, Syria, when forces targeted an Isis operations planner. Five civilians were killed when they moved into an area targeted by already launched missiles, and a final civilian was killed in 2015 when the person drove a motorcycle near a targeted Isis vehicle.
In 2016, one civilian was killed and five injured near an Isis cash point in Mosul, Iraq, and one civilian was killed in Al Ghazili, Syria, after the person drove near a targeted vehicle.
The military’s tally also does not include a “friendly fire” incident when nine Iraqi soldiers were killed by US-led coalition forces.