A new report by a nonprofit news project found that hundreds of civilians may have been killed in airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, contradicting U.S. authorities, who have acknowledged only two confirmed civilian deaths in the last year.
In 57 incidents, there were as many as 591 reported civilian deaths, according to Airwars, a not-for-profit project by a team of independent journalists. In the report, Airwars counted only deaths in which there was “sufficient publicly available evidence to indicate coalition responsibility.” In addition to noncombatant deaths, some 48 to 80 allied, or friendly, forces may have been killed, according to Airwars.
The Airwars reports said that, according to local news agencies and social media reports, the number of civilians killed is more than 1,000 but there was insufficient detail about those claims to include those deaths in its total.
U.S. Central Command has acknowledged only that U.S.-led airstrikes in the vicinity of Harem, Syria, against the Khorasan group of veteran Al-Qaeda operatives “likely led to the deaths of two noncombatant children.” That acknowledgment came seven months after the strikes.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said CENTCOM "does continue to look into allegations of civilian causalities further and investigates them where appropriate."
"If they find evidence supporting allegations of civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes, they make that information fully available," he said. "There are six civilian causality allegations that are currently being investigated in six separate investigations."
CENTCOM air commander Lt. Gen. John Hesterman recently stated, “Our coalition airstrikes are the most precise and disciplined in the history of aerial warfare. We’ve been able to impact the enemy in a significant way, and we do it in a way that minimizes civilian casualties, which our coalition nations rightly are very proud of.”