Reports

Reports

A general view of participants during the 29th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council. 22 June 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Published

June 2015

Written by

Basile Simon

ABOVE: Delegates at the 29th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, June 22 2015, heard calls for coalition members to promptly investigate reports of civilian casualties (UN)

Major Developments

  • The coalition ends its 46th week of bombings having carried out 141 airstrikes on Islamic State.
  • New UN report calls on international coalition to conduct “prompt, independent and impartial” investigations into alleged civilian casualties – and to publish their findings.
  • Nato met this week to discuss plans to re-engage in Iraq to fight Islamic State, four years after the alliance departed from Iraq.
  • More than 1,000 American and British drone strikes have now been reported – making the anti-ISIL conflict the most intense use of armed drones in history
  • A report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedly found that 162 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes in Syria since the beginning of the campaign.

Civilian Casualties

  • A major new report on Islamic State for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has urged the coalition to conduct prompt, independent investigations into alleged civilian casualties caused by its airstrikes in Iraq and Syria – and to publish the results.

Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, cited ongoing Airwars research as part of a wide-ranging report looking at Islamic State human rights abuses – and the obligations of those fighting the terror group.

Titled Human rights in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Emmerson’s report – presented at Geneva on June 22 – also includes a series of recommendations.

As well as urging Iraq and Syria to become parties to the International Criminal Court – and for the UN to pursue Islamic State for alleged war crimes – members of the international coalition fighting Daesh are also urged to limit the risks to civilians on the ground.

As Emmerson notes: “All States engaged in military action against ISIL in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic are under an obligation to conduct prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiries in any case where there is a plausible indication that civilian casualties have been sustained, and to make public the results.

UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson presents his report on Islamic State at Geneva June 22 (United Nations)

UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson presents his report on Islamic State at Geneva on   June 22 (United Nations)

 

  • According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 162 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes since the beginning of the campaign. SOHR reportedly documented the death of 2,896 people in Syria, and found among them 2,628 Daesh fighters, 105 Al Nusra combatants, one “fighter from an Islamic brigade”, and 162 non-combatants. “After 9 months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights re-expresses its strong condemnation, to the fall of the 162 civilians, as a result of the coalition airstrikes, and calls for neutralizing civilians areas from all kinds of military operations,” said SOHR.

Military Actions

  • To June 26th, the coalition had concluded its 46th week of airstrikes, having carried out 104 attacks against Islamic State in Iraq, with a further 37 bombings in Syria.
  • The operations in Syria focused particularly around Tal Abyad, a small city on the border with Turkey. 12 out of 37 coalition strikes in Syria were reported in this area alone. All these strikes were carried out by US forces.In Iraq, the bombings concentrated again around the north and western part of the country. 73 strikes were produced by the US, while 31 were by American allies.

  • US armed Predators and Reapers have already carried out 875 drone strikes in Iraq and Syria, out of approximately 3,600 American airstrikes since August 2014. “We’re involved in pretty much every engagement,” the drone commander at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada told the Daily Beast.

With the British also reporting that approximately half of its 290 airstrikes against Daesh have been by its Reapers, the war against Islamic State represents the most intense use of armed drones in any conflict to date – with more than 1,000 drone strikes already recorded in the first 10 months of fighting.

With around one in four American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria now being carried out by drones  – and as many as one in two British strikes – the present war against Islamic State shows the increasing dominance of remotely-piloted warfare,” says Chris Woods of Airwars. “However, continuing and credible reports of civilian casualties from the battlefield suggest the drone isn’t the ‘perfect’ weapon some have claimed.”

  •  After the Netherlands announced last week that its mandate to fight Daesh has been extended until October 2016, Nato is planning on re-engaging in Iraq, four years after it departed the country, The Guardian reports. One of the plans considered is the training of Iraqi officers, as Baghdad is currently struggling to counter Islamic State’s progression.
US and British Reapers are playing a major role in the war against ISIL (Library image via US Air Force/ Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

US and British Reapers are playing a major role in the war against ISIL (Library image via US Air Force/ Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

 

▲ A general view of participants during the 29th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council. 22 June 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré