According to Airwars, an organization that monitors international airstrikes against Daesh, the following civilian deaths have been reported after US-led coalition airstrikes took place in Syria and Iraq this month alone.
Links to all alleged civilian fatality incidents from Coalition strikes in Iraq & Syria for 2014, 2015 and 2016 here https://t.co/8K9RrbfXle
— Airwars (@airwars_) January 6, 2016
Twelve civilians were killed at Hit and Thiayala in Iraq on January 1st, resulting in the deaths and injuries of women and children. The coalition press release stated that “near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL [Daesh] tactical units and destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, six ISIL heavy machine gun positions, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL vehicle, cratered two ISIL-used roads, and denied ISIL access to terrain.”
Local media reported that on January 7th, Coalition airstrikes in Hit, Anbar province, Iraq, had struck a residential building — no further details were available and the official statement read: “Near Hit, two strikes struck an ISIL VBIED factory.” Eight children and three women were also reported killed during a similar airstrike in Syria the next day.
The reports go on and the last one, as of January 20th, says that “Coalition fighters” had struck civilians in north west Ramadi, Iraq, killing 13 civilians and injuring a further 18.
“Near Ramadi, six strikes [2 British] struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar system, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL RPG system, two ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), an ISIL building, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL tunnel entrance, two ISIL petroleum oil and lubricant trucks, an ISIL front end loader, suppressed an ISIL mortar system, and denied ISIL access to terrain.”
Last week, the US military admitted to killing six civilians in two separate incidents. This week, the Daily Beast received information that the Pentagon will soon be ready to announce 14 more incidents in which civilians were killed in Iraq in Syria.
#SecDef: When the full coalition meets next month, every nation must come prepared to discuss further contributions to the fight.
— Peter Cook (@PentagonPresSec) January 21, 2016
These new incidents, according to an anonymous US military source, span most of 2015 and involved at least 15 deaths and 14 injuries. However, given the claims cited by Airwars, the death toll may be much-much higher.
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) January 21, 2016
According to Airwars, the number of civilians claimed killed reaches between 824 and 2,422 in both Iraq and Syria over the last 17 months. And a recent UN report, released Tuesday, suggested that nearly 19,000 civilians had been killed since 2014 — in Iraq alone.
“Even the obscene casualty figures fail to accurately reflect exactly how terribly civilians are suffering in Iraq,” a statement from UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein read.
The anonymous US defense source claims that children were not killed in any of these 14 new incidents. However, when the US military admitted last week that in two incidents, which occurred in Iraq and Syria, six civilians were killed, children were believed to be among the dead.
The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has been finalizing a report on civilian casualties. A CENTCOM document acquired by the blog War Is Boring, does report civilian casualties took place during an airstrike on a Daesh checkpoint in Iraq in May — March. The initial report found that two women and three children were hit by the strike.
Overall, the US has confessed to killing 21 civilians in 16 instances and as of August 2015, investigated 71 allegations of civilians deaths.
The US military and Pentagon say that their top priority is to minimize the number of innocents caught up in the Coalition’s war against Daesh.
Some even feel the US is being too cautious. A US official familiar with the airstrike approval process told the Daily Beast that:
“The commands and others are trying to find out what they can do. They don’t get any guidance. They are told what they can’t do.”
As news of more incidents and with them more casualties emerges from the Pentagon — it is almost impossible to independently confirm whether these statements are true. Investigating civilian deaths in war zones is highly difficult and almost impossible, with the Pentagon’s own investigators unable to safely assess the aftermath of a US airstrike.
Questions concerning the true numbers of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes remain unanswered — and so does the Pentagon’s credibility.
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