US-led strikes in Iraq, Syria killed many civilians: report
U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria likely have killed hundreds of civilians, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday. The coalition had no immediate comment.
The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, said it believed 57 specific strikes killed at least 459 civilians and caused 48 suspected “friendly fire” deaths.
While Airwars noted
dif- ficulty of verifying information in territory held by the Islamic State group, which has beheaded journalists and shot dead activists, other groups have reported similar casualties from the U.S.-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 (group) and other forces a powerful propaganda tool.”
The U.S. launched airstrikes in Iraq on Aug. 8 and in Syria on Sept. 23 to target the Islamic State group. A coalition of countries later joined to help allied ground forces in both countries defeat the extremists. To date, the coalition has launched more than 5,800 airstrikes in both countries. So far, the U.S. only has 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, accord- ing to an investigation released in May by the U.S. military.
That strike is one of at least four ongoing U.S. military investigations into allegations of civilian casualties resulting from the airstrikes. One other probe into an airstrike in Syria and two investigations into airstrikes in Iraq are still pending.
Airwars said it identified the 57 strikes through reporting from “two or more generally credible sources, often with biographical, photographic or video evidence.” The strikes also corresponded to confirmed coalition strikes conducted in the area at that time, it said.