US: 173 civilians killed in coalition airstrikes against ISIS

US: 173 civilians killed in coalition airstrikes against ISIS
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The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is raising its count of civilian deaths from the air campaign.

The coalition determined seven additional reports of civilian casualties caused by coalition strikes to be credible. Those strikes likely killed 54 civilians, raising the death toll of civilians killed since the start of the 2014 campaign to 173, according to a statement from Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve on Thursday.

“Although the coalition makes extraordinary efforts to strike military targets in a manner that minimizes the risk of civilian casualties, in some cases casualties are unavoidable,” the statement said.

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“We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives resulting from Coalition efforts to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes,” it added, using an alternate name for the group.

Despite the deaths, the strikes complied with the law of armed conflict, the statement claimed.

Among the strikes in Thursday’s release was a July 18 strike near Manbij, Syria.

The ultimately successful fight to retake Manbij from ISIS was marked by reports of hundreds of civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes and calls from opposition and advocacy groups for a halt to the airstrikes pending an investigation.

In Thursday’s statement, the coalition said the July 18 strike inadvertently killed 24 civilians who were interspersed with combatants in a known ISIS staging area.

“Reports indicated that approximately 100 ISIL fighters were preparing for a large counterattack against partnered Syrian Arab Coalition/Syrian Democratic Forces and, unknown to coalition planners, civilians were moving around within the military staging area, even as other civilians in the nearby village had departed over the previous days,” the statement said.

The strike also killed nearly 100 ISIS fighters and destroyed 13 fighting positions, seven vehicles, two car bombs, one tactical vehicle and one mortar system, the statement added.

The statement described the other six strikes:

— On March 31, near Sala Heya, Syria, three civilians were killed by coalition counter-battery artillery during a strike on an ISIS mortar system.

— On May 16, near As Shaddadi, Syria, two civilians were killed in a strike on seven ISIS fighters in a moving vehicle. One civilian was a passenger in the vehicle, while the other was riding a motorcycle that came near the ISIS vehicle after the strike was fired.

— On July 28, near Arghanndorh, Syria, 15 civilians were killed during a strike on a moving ISIS vehicle that slowed down in a populated area after the strike was fired.

— On Oct. 4, near Taltanah, Syria, one civilian was killed in the blast after a strike on ISIS fighters.

— On Oct. 17, near Idlib, Syria, one civilian was killed when he entered the target area after the strike was fired at ISIS fighters.

_ On Oct. 22, near Fasitiyah, Iraq, eight civilians were killed in strike on a building from which ISIS fighters were firing on partnered Iraqi forces.

In addition to the seven reports deemed credible, 12 reports were deemed noncredible, either because there was insufficient evidence or because no coalition strikes were conducted in the area of the report. 

Three more strikes from October are also still being assessed, the statement added.