Report criticizes lack of transparency
U.S.-led coalition says 173 dead since summer 2014; report says 1,500
A report released Monday by Airwars, a London-based project aimed at tracking the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes targeting the Islamic State, criticized the coalition’s lack of transparency when assessing civilian casualties. Coalition airstrikes have been critical in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, where Iraqi forces are trying to push the militant group out of Mosul.
Although U.S. officials have acknowledged that 173 civilians have died in coalition airstrikes since the launch of the campaign against the Islamic State in summer 2014, the Airwars group says the number of civilian casualties is much greater: at least 1,500.
The Airwars project said the discrepancy in the numbers of acknowledged civilian casualties is partially the result of how civilian deaths are investigated. Assessments carried out by the coalition are “opaque, ad hoc and significantly biased toward internal military reporting,” the group said.
The coalition has been criticized repeatedly for the slow pace of investigations into civilian casualties in the fight against the Islamic State. The coalition has carried out more than 16,500 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State targets since the fight against the militant group was launched more than two years ago.
In Mosul, Iraqi forces continue a slow advance on the city’s eastern front. During meetings with Iraqi military commanders south of Mosul Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi emphasized the operation is being waged to reduce casualties among Iraqi troops and civilians, according to a written statement released by his office.
Iraqi forces inside Mosul were more optimistic about the pace of the fight.
“Within days we will be advancing toward the six remaining districts and reach the left bank of the Tigris (River), meaning we will have liberated the whole of the east side of Mosul,” said Iraqi special forces Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi in Mosul’s eastern Nour neighborhood on Sunday.
In Fallujah, two suicide car bombings targeting security checkpoints in Fallujah killed at least two people Sunday, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen Saad Maan. He said the attacks killed a civilian and a policeman and wounded seven.
A local police officer and a medical official put the casualty toll at three killed and 11 wounded. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to talk to reporters.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement. The authenticity of the claim couldn’t be confirmed but it was posted on a militant website commonly used by the extremists.
Last month, the Islamic State launched three suicide attacks in and near Fallujah, killing at least 16 people. Fallujah was recaptured from the Islamic State in June.
Smoke rises from Islamic State positions after an airstrike by U.S.-led coalition warplanes in Fallujah, Iraq, in May.