WASHINGTON – The United States-led anti-ISIS coalition confirmed Monday that airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during the month of November killed at least 15 civilians, bringing the total confirmed civilian death toll to 188 since the air campaign started in late 2014.
During the month of November 2016, the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) received 16 new reports of civilian casualties, and reviewed seven previously received reports of possible civilian casualties. Thirteen of these reports were assessed to be non-credible, five were credible and another five are under review.
Amnesty International have put the civilian death toll much higher. Other groups have criticized the lag time between an airstrike itself and U.S. military acknowledgement.
The Coalition appears to be now releasing civilian casualty reports on a monthly basis, having released the last one on Dec. 2. That report found that strikes from March 31 to Oct. 22 killed at least 54 civilians.
The mission said that it takes “all reports of civilian casualties seriously and assesses all incidents as thoroughly as possible.”
Operation Inherent Resolve maintains a small ground presence of foreign troops who enable local forces with training and arms, and support the ground forces with ground artillery and airstrikes.
“Although we are unable to fully investigate all reports of possible civilian casualties using traditional investigative methods, such as interviewing witnesses and examining the site, the Coalition interviews pilots, reviews strike video when available, and analyzes information provided by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, partner forces and traditional and social media,” the Coalition said in Monday’s statement.
The Coalition maintains that the strikes were carried out within the law of armed conflict, and thus legally sound.
“We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives,” the Coalition said.
Operation Inherent Resolve provided short descriptions of the five cases that “more likely than not” resulted in the death of at least one civilian. These strikes that are thought to have killed 15 civilians involve the following incidents:
1. Nov. 6, 2016, near Shahid-Yunis As Sab, Iraq: During a strike on ISIL fighters in a moving vehicle seven civilians were unintentionally killed when the targeted vehicle came into close proximity to two stationary vehicles just prior to the munition’s impact.
2. Nov. 21, 2016, near Al-Salahiyah, Syria: During a strike on ISIL-held buildings two civilians were unintentionally killed.
3. Nov. 26, 2016, near Mosul, Iraq: During a strike on ISIL fighters and a technical vehicle two civilians were unintentionally killed by the munition’s strike blast.
4. Nov. 26, 2016, near Ar Raqqah, Syria: During a strike on ISIL fighters in a moving vehicle one civilian pedestrian was unintentionally killed by the munition’s strike blast.
5. Nov. 29, 2016, near Mosul, Iraq: During a strike on ISIL fighters three civilians were unintentionally killed when they entered the target area just prior to the munition’s impact.