US strikes may have killed 119 civilians in Iraq, Syria: Pentagon

US strikes may have killed 119 civilians in Iraq, Syria: Pentagon

US strikes may have killed 119 civilians in Iraq, Syria: Pentagon

AP photo

Air strikes by the United States in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) may have killed 119 civilians since 2014, the Pentagon said Nov. 9, releasing a death toll that is far lower than the casualty estimates supplied by monitoring groups.

The U.S. military said 64 civilians were killed and eight were injured in 24 U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria over the past year, based on newly completed investigations.

The figures released by Centcom, the U.S. military command in the Middle East, came from a months-long review of reports and databases, the Pentagon said, according to Agence France-Presse.

London-based NGO Airways estimates that coalition bombing has killed 1,787 civilians since the air campaign to destroy ISIL began in August 2014.

“We have teams who work full time to prevent unintended civilian casualties,” Col. John Thomas was quoted as saying in the Centcom statement. “We do all we can to minimize those occurrences even at the cost of sometimes missing the chance to strike valid targets in real time.”

The Pentagon’s investigation found that “in each of these strikes, the right processes were followed; each complied with Law of Armed Conflict and significant precautions were taken, despite the unfortunate outcome,” Thomas said.

The United States, which carries out 80 percent of the coalition bombing, says it uses precision-guided munitions that limit civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Russia is accused of using conventional bombs that are much more deadly to civilian populations.
Amnesty International estimates that there have been at least 300 civilian victims in Syria alone from coalition strikes.

Iraq forces accused of killing, torturing civilians south of Mosul

Meanwhile, rights groups said Nov. 10 that Iraqi government forces had killed and tortured civilians south of Mosul, in the first such reports of alleged abuse in a U.S.-backed campaign to retake the city from ISIL. 

Amnesty International said “up to six” people were found dead last month in the Shura and Qayyara sub-districts after security forces suspected them of ties to the ultra-hardline jihadist group which seized a third of Iraqi territory in 2014. 

“Men in federal police uniform have carried out multiple unlawful killings, apprehending and then deliberately killing in cold blood residents in villages south of Mosul,” said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty’s Beirut office, according to Reuters. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 37 men suspected of being affiliated with ISIL had been detained by Iraqi and Kurdish forces from checkpoints, villages, screening centers and camps for displaced people around Mosul and Hawija, further south. 

Relatives said they did not know where most of the men were being held and had not been able to contact any of them while in detention, according to the report. 

On Nov. 10, Iraqi troops consolidated gains in their advance on the northern city of Mosul, regrouping as they clear neighborhoods and houses once occupied by ISIL.

In Mosul proper, where troops have a foothold in a sliver of territory in the city’s east, the special forces control the Zahra neighborhood, once named after former dictator Saddam Hussein, and have taken at least half of the Aden neighborhood, military officials said.

The regular army’s ninth division is stationed in east Mosul’s Intisar neighborhood, they told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Iraqi security forces were also are preparing to advance toward Mosul airport on the city’s southern edge to increase pressure on ISIL militants fighting troops who breached their eastern defenses, officers said Nov. 10. 

Lt.-Col. Dhiya Mizhir, from the rapid reaction force, said the target was an area overlooking Mosul airport, which has been rendered unusable by ISIL to prevent attackers using it as a staging post for their offensive.