US acknowledges additional civilian deaths in fight against ISIS

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The U.S. military said in a monthly report on Sunday that it estimates at least 1,139 civilians were inadvertently killed in airstrikes over the last four years during the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an increase of 15 people since November.

U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the military carried out 31,406 airstrikes between August 2014 and November 2018 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. 

The military said it determined three more incidents contained credible reports of civilian casualties, including a secondary explosion following the destruction of an explosives factory in Mosul, Iraq that killed 12 civilians in March 2017. 

Central Command said it makes an effort to “minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure” by vetting each target prior to an airstrike, and reviewing the area after the strike.

{mosads}The military said there are still 184 reports of civilian casualties being assessed.

Airwars, a watchdog group that monitors civilian casualties from military operations in Iraq, Syria and Libya, had referred all three new confirmed instances of civilian casualties to the U.S. military.

All three newly conceded Coalition casualty events – which between them killed at least 15 civilians in Iraq and Syria – were Airwars referrals. In total the US-led alliance has now admitted 1,139 deaths since the war against ISIS began in 2014.

The watchdog group’s estimate of civilian casualties is significantly higher than the U.S. military’s report. Airwars estimates that between 7,316 and 11,637 civilians have died in U.S.-led operations in Iraq and Syria. 

President Trump earlier this month announced that he planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Lawmakers in both parties criticized the move, arguing it would destabilize the region. Some lawmakers praised the move, saying the U.S. had no strategy for the region in the first place.

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