At least 199 civilians killed by anti-ISIS coalition strikes in Syria and Iraq: official


US-led coalition steps up airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. File photo: AFP

ARA News

The US-led coalition said on Thursday that at least 199 civilians were unintentionally killed since the start of the coalition air campaign against ISIS in 2014.

“We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives resulting from Coalition efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes,” the coalition said in a statement obtained by ARA News.

In December, the coalition received 12 new reports, and assessed 11 reports of possible civilian casualties. The coalition concluded that seven of these reports were non-credible, while four reports were assessed to be credible resulting in the unintended death of 11 civilians in airstrikes near Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa.

“[US-led Coalition’s] CJTF-OIR takes all reports of civilian casualties seriously and assesses reports as thoroughly as possible,” the coalition said.

“Although we are unable to investigate all reports of possible civilian casualties using traditional investigative methods, such as by interviewing witnesses and examining the site, we do interview pilots and other personnel involved in targeting decisions, review aircraft video if available, and analyze information provided by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, partner forces and traditional and social media,” the coalition said.

According to the US-led coalition unintended casualties are not always avoidable. “In each of the reports, it was assessed that even though feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the Law of Armed Conflict, unintended civilian casualties unfortunately occurred,” the coalition said.

Currently, 10 reports of civilian casualties are still being assessed by the US-led coalition.

However, the Airwars, an organization by a team of journalists tracking coalition airstrikes based on open sources, suggested the number could be higher.

“For Dec. 2016, Coalition so far admits 10 civilian deaths. Public reports suggest 160+ died. Gulf remains between public and military tallies,” the organization said.

According to Airwars, at least 2,350 deaths were confirmed, while the US-led coalition says 199 were killed in total.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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