In a doubling of previous estimates of civilians killed in its air war against so-called Islamic State, the US has confirmed that 20 more non-combatants are believed to have died and 11 injured in nine separate events between September 2015 and February 2016.
Among those likely killed were two Iraqi families. On October 5th, US aircraft targeted an ‘ISIL mortar position’ in the village of Atshanah near Huwaijah. CENTCOM now admits that “eight civilians were killed.”
According to an earlier United Nations report, all of the dead came from one family, that of a village elder: “On 5 October, an airstrike mistakenly targeted a civilian house in Atshana village, east of Hawija and southwest of Kirkuk, that belonged to the Mukhtar of the village, killing eight persons from the same family, including several women and children and the Mukhtar himself.”
And on December 12th 2015 in Ramadi, five members of the Kazem family including three children died when US aircraft struck an ‘ISIL checkpoint.’ CENTCOM now says that “five civilians were killed after they unexpectedly moved into the target location after weapons were already in flight.”
Local media have named the dead as Duraid Ibrahim Kazem, his wife Nebras Abdul Alkarim, and three of their children: Mustafa, Mohammed and Farah. Graphic images of their bodies were posted at the time.
Nine new civilian casualty events have been reported in total – bringing to 25 the number of cases so far admitted. A total of 41 civilian deaths and 28 injuries have now been conceded by the US.
That compares with 406 alleged Coalition civilian casualty events tracked by Airwars since strikes began in August 2014. Of these, Airwars presently assesses a further 167 events as having been fairly reported, with a likely additional civilian toll of 1,064 to 1,638 civilians killed.
All of the newly-admitted events were carried out by US aircraft, most the result of civilians entering the ‘kill box’ after weapon release. No other Coalition ally – or Russia – has so far conceded killing or injuring any civilians, despite thousands of airstrikes between them.
“While we appreciate the latest US admission of civilian casualties from its 20-month war against so-called Islamic State, we remain concerned that the Coalition is significantly under-reporting non-combatant deaths,” said Airwars director Chris Woods. “Only 41 of 1,100 or more likely civilian deaths have so far been conceded – and all by the United States. Other allies in the Coalition – as well as Russia – now need to be open about the casualties they too have inflicted.”
Six of the newly admitted events took place in Iraq and three in Syria. Only a third of the incidents were publicly reported at the time, suggesting both that internal CENTCOM monitoring is capable of detecting likely civilian casualties – but also that public accounts of civilian deaths may represent a significant underreporting.
The US has also confirmed the first civilian death in Mosul – a city which has seen more Coalition airstrikes and alleged civilian fatalities than anywhere else in Iraq or Syria. On January 11th CENTCOM now admits, at least one civilian died and five or more were injured during a US air raid on a bank in the city. At the time the US let it be known it had been prepared to inflict up to 50 civilian casualties in the attack.
Latest confirmed civilian casualties from US strikes
|Sept 10th 2015||Kubaysah, Iraq||2 killed and 4 injured when vehicle enters killbox|
|Oct 5th 2015||Atshanah, Iraq||Family of 8 or 9 killed when house struck|
|Nov 4th 2015||Huwaijah, Iraq||2 nearby civilians injured when ‘ISIL vehicle’ hit|
|Nov 12th 2015||Ramadi, Iraq||1 civilian killed in strike on ‘ISIL fighters’|
|Dec 10th 2015||Raqqa, Syria||1 civilian killed in targeted strike on HVT|
|Dec 12th 2015||Ramadi, Iraq||Family of 5 includng 3 children killed|
|Dec 24th 2015||Tishreen, Syria||1 civilian killed when motorbike enters killbox|
|Jan 11th 2016||Mosul, Iraq||1 civilian killed and 5 injured in strike on ‘ISIL bank’|
|Feb 2nd 2016||Al Ghazili, Syria||1 civilian killed in strike on ‘ISIL vehicle’|