While expressing regret on Sunday, the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), a U.S. command tasked with anti-ISIS aerial operations in both Syria and Iraq, admitted its combined airstrikes have killed 352 civilians since the beginning of operations in 2014.
In a statement released over the weekend, CJTF-OIR revealed 45 civilians have been killed by airstrikes since November 2016.
“It is more likely than not, at least 352 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve,” read part of the CJTF-OIR press release. “We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives resulting from Coalition efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes.”
The U.S.-led coalition began its bombing campaign in June 2014 and has carried out a total of 20,205 sorties, a majority of which have targeted ISIS positions in Iraq. The remaining forays have been conducted against targets in Syria.
Included in the CJTF-OIR release was a detailed accounting of 17 airstrikes in which no evidence exists of civilian deaths due to a Coalition operation. Similarly, the statement continued with nine incidents between November 2016 and March in which civilian casualties did occur.
The statement concluded with 42 incidents in which the Coalition is still assessing if civilian casualties occurred.
Long assailed by rights groups, air operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) have consistently produced conflicting data, often in which humanitarian groups furnish significantly larger numbers of civilians killed.
London-based group Airwars, which has carefully monitored the Coalition aerial campaign in Syria and Iraq claims 3,164 civilians have been killed since August 2014.
The group similarly tracks Russian military activity in Syria; however, Airwars states civilian deaths in Syria are lower largely due to a ceasefire in place and a dramatically lower number of sorties prosecuted by the Russian Air Force.
The CJTF-OIR figures do not include civilian deaths from American airstrikes in Yemen.
[RT News] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy AP/Lefteris Pitarakis via Huffington Post]