US-led airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have killed at least 459 civilians in the last year, according to a report, Sky News reports. The report by Airwars said it believed 57 strikes killed civilians and caused 48 suspected “friendly fire” deaths. Those same airstrikes are said to have killed more than 15,000 IS militants. The report said: “Almost all claims of non-combatant deaths from alleged coalition strikes emerge within 24 hours – with graphic images of reported victims often widely disseminated.
“In this context, the present coalition policy of downplaying or denying all claims of non-combatant fatalities makes little sense, and risks handing (the) Islamic State and other forces a powerful propaganda tool.”The US began airstrikes against IS in Iraq on 8 August last year, and in Syria on 23 September. A coalition of countries has since joined the operations which have seen more than 5,800 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
The US has only acknowledged killing two civilians in its airstrikes – two children who died during a strike against al Qaeda-linked militants in Syria in 2014. That airstrike is the subject of one of at least four ongoing investigations by the US military into allegations of civilian casualties.US Army Colonel Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the coalition, said: “There is no other military in the world that works as hard as we do to be precise.
“When an allegation of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces is determined to be credible, we investigate it fully and strive to learn from it so as to avoid recurrence.” Four investigations into alleged civilian casualties have been completed by US Central Command. Three were judged to be unfounded, while the fourth found two innocent civilians were killed and two other people wounded.
Six investigations are still ongoing. Airways – a project aimed at tracking international airstrikes against extremists – said it identified the 57 strikes through reporting from “two or more generally credible sources, often with biographical, photographic or video evidence”. It comes after Britain announced it would be extending airstrikes by RAF Tornados for another year.