At least 64 civilians have been killed and eight injured in 24 US air strikes against Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria between November 20, 2015, and September 10, 2016, the US military said in a statement on Wednesday.
Rights organisations such as Amnesty International have urged the US to “come clean” about civilian deaths in air strikes. On October 26, Amnesty said, “Eleven Coalition attacks examined by the organization appear to have killed some 300 civilians during two years of strikes targeting the armed group calling itself Islamic State.”
Syria has been in a state of war since 2011 with civilians caught between the Bashar al-Assad-led regime, Daesh, and multiple foreign states, including the US and Russia, which support various actors. In Iraq, the government, local militias, peshmerga fighters and a supporting coalition, including the US, have been trying to liberate the city of Mosul from Daesh. Both countries have faced severe displacement, high civilian casualties and food shortages, building up to massive humanitarian crises.
According to Colonel John Thomas, a spokesperson for US Central Command, “In each of the cases released today, the assessment determined that although all feasible precautions were taken and strikes complied with laws of armed conflict, civilian casualties unfortunately did occur,"
In a strike on November 20, five civilians were killed near Dayr Az Zawr, Syria after they entered the target area after the aircraft released its weapons.
In a strike on March 5, near Mosul, Iraq, 10 civilians were killed in a strike against an Daesh "weapons production facility," the statement said.
"Mitigating civilian casualties is a key component of the counter-ISIL air campaign, and we've applied lessons learned to reduce the likelihood of future civilian casualties," Thomas said, using an acronym for Daesh.
Including the latest disclosure, the Pentagon has assessed that 119 civilians have been killed in US air strikes since 2014, while 37 have been injured, Major Josh Jacques, another spokesperson for US Central Command, said.
Jacques said the latest release did not include an investigation into a coalition air strike in mid-July near Manbij, Syria, which groups say killed dozens of civilians, but that it was near completion.
The United States has conducted 12,354 air strikes against Daesh as of November 2, with 6,992 in Iraq and 5,362 in Syria, according to US military data.
The operation against Daesh in Iraq and Syria has cost $9.3 billion since 2014, the data shows.