At least 800 civilians have been killed by US-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, a coalition report says. It adds that the group holds itself accountable for “unintentional injury or death to civilians.”
“To date, based on information available, [the coalition] assesses at least 801 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve [in 2014],” Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) said in statement on Thursday.
According to the document, US-led forces in Iraq and Syria conducted “a total of 28,198 strikes that included 56,976 separate engagements between August 2014 and October 2017… During this period, the total number of reports of possible civilian casualties was 1,790,” it added.
In June, Amnesty International released a report, criticizing the action of the US coalition in Mosul, Iraq. Dubbed “At any cost: the civilian catastrophe in west Mosul, Iraq,” the document says that, apart from IS attacks, civilians suffer from “relentless unlawful attacks by Iraqi government forces and members of the US-led coalition.” The report said that at least 5,805 civilians were killed by the US and Iraqi strikes.
In September, Human Rights Watch, which also monitors US coalition actions, said strikes that killed civilians in Syria “instilled fear and pushed many to flee.” “Although ISIS fighters were also at these sites, the high civilian death toll raises concerns that military forces of the US-led coalition failed to take necessary precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties, a requirement under international humanitarian law,” HRW said.
The biggest single incident was in Abu Kamal, along the Iraqi border, where US airstrikes killed at least 30 civilians, mostly women and children. The Pentagon downplayed the incident, saying they couldn’t confirm the civilian casualties, and that they’d “tried to avoid” killing any civilians.
Abu Kamal is a main border crossing between Iraq and Syria, and the Syrian side is mostly controlled by ISIS. The other strikes saw Russia killing 10 civilians in Maaret Harmeh, in Idlib Province, and four civilians were killed by Syrian government strikes in Aleppo Province.
This marks the latest in a growing number of US strikes with large civiliian tolls across Iraq and Syria, most of which never make it into official Pentagon figures, despite substantial third party evidence that they took place. The result of this is that the “official” figure is less than 10% the number killed according to NGOs.
Let’s compare a couple of accounts of the mass deaths apparently caused by chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21. One account comes from the U.S. government (8/30/13), introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry. The other was published by a Minnesota-based news site called Mint Press News (8/29/13).
The government account expresses “high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack” on August 21. The Mintreport bore the headline “Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.” Which of these two versions should we find more credible?
The U.S. government, of course, has a track record that will incline informed observers to approach its claims with skepticism–particularly when it’s making charges about the proscribed weapons of official enemies. Kerry said in hisaddress that “our intelligence community” has been “more than mindful of the Iraq experience”–as should be anyone listening to Kerry’s presentation, because the Iraq experience informs us that secretaries of State can express great confidence about matters that they are completely wrong about, and that U.S. intelligence assessments can be based on distortion of evidence and deliberate suppression of contradictory facts.
Israel used a Turkish military base to launch one of its recent airstrikes against Syria from the sea, a reliable source told RT. Israel has been under scrutiny since last week, when it was reported to be responsible for a July 5 depot attack in Latakia.
News that Turkey assisted Israel in attacking another Muslim state could result in serious turmoil for Ankara, once the information is confirmed.
“Our source is telling us that Israeli planes left a military base inside Turkey and approached Latakia from the sea to make sure that they stayed out of Syrian airspace so that they cannot become a legitimate target for the Syrian air force,” RT’s Paula Slier reports.
In response, Turkey has denied that Israel has used its base to strike Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the media that existing reports of the incident are“absolutely wrong” and those who spread such rumors are in “act of betrayal.”
“Turkey will neither be a part nor a partner of such ‘attacks.’ The ones who claim this want to damage Turkey’s power and reputation,” he added.