American bombings kill 459 Syrian and Iraqi civilians

American bombings kill 459 Syrian and Iraqi civilians

US-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have likely killed at least 459 civilians over the past year, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday. 

The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, said it believed 57 specific strikes killed civilians and caused 48 suspected “friendly fire'' deaths. It said the strikes have killed more than 15,000 Islamic State militants.

While Airwars noted the difficulty of verifying information in territory held by the IS group, which has kidnapped and killed journalists and activists, other groups have reported similar casualties from the US-led airstrikes. 

“Almost all claims of noncombatant deaths from alleged coalition strikes emerge within 24 hours _ with graphic images of reported victims often widely disseminated,'' the report said.

“In this context, the present coalition policy of downplaying or denying all claims of noncombatant fatalities makes little sense, and risks handing [the] Islamic State and other forces a powerful propaganda tool.''

The US launched airstrikes in Iraq on August 8 and in Syria on Septermber 23 to target the Islamic State group. A coalition of countries later joined to help allied ground forces combat the extremists. To date, the coalition has launched more than 5,800 airstrikes in both countries.

The US has only acknowledged killing two civilians in its strikes: two children who were likely slain during an American airstrike targeting al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria last year. That same strike also wounded two adults, according to an investigation released in May by the US military. 

US Army Colonel Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the coalition, did not address the report directly, but said “there is no other military in the world that works as hard as we do to be precise.''

“When an allegation of civilian casualties caused by Coalition forces is determined to be credible, we investigate it fully and strive to learn from it so as to avoid recurrence,'' he said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press.

Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department has seen the press reports on the additional civilian casualties but said the Pentagon will have nothing to say until the reports are reviewed.

US Central Command has finished four investigations into alleged civilian casualties, concluding that three were unfounded and that two innocent civilians were killed and two other people wounded in the fourth case. 

There are six other investigations still ongoing. 
Airwars said it identified the 57 strikes through reporting from “two or more generally credible sources, often with biographical, photographic or video evidence.'' 

The incidents also corresponded to confirmed coalition strikes conducted in the area at that time, it said. The group is staffed by journalists.

In Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition includes France, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark and Canada. Jordan has also carried out airstrikes in Iraq as well as in Syria, although it has released no further information about the dates or locations of its attacks.

The coalition conducting airstrikes in Syria include the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Canada began its own strikes in April, while Britain carries out routine reconnaissance-only drone missions above Syria, and British pilots have carried out airstrikes while embedded with US forces.

“Only one of twelve coalition partners – Canada – has consistently stated in a timely fashion both where and when it carries out airstrikes,'' the report said.—AP

American bombings kill 459 Syrian and Iraqi civilians American bombings kill 459 Syrian and Iraqi civilians Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 7:07 PM Rating: 5

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