U.S. Led Coalition In Syria Killed Nearly 500 Innocent Civilians In One Month
The current American-led campaign against ISIS in Syria has led to the deaths of nearly 500 civilians, according to a United Nations study:
The US-led coalition killed nearly 500 civilians in one month in its pursuit of Islamic State militants in Syria, in what the United Nations has called a “staggering loss of life”.
Some 470 civilians, including 137 children, died in air strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)-held cities of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria between May 23 and June 23.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights SOHR) monitor said the period saw the highest civilian death toll in coalition raids for a single month since they began on September 23, 2014. The figure was more than double the previous 30-day toll.
Observers claim the number is higher than those killed by Russian strikes, Isil and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the same period.
Rami Abdel Rahman, SOHR’s director, said that the new deaths brought the overall civilian toll from the coalition’s campaign in Syria to 1,953, including 456 children and 333 women.
Human rights and monitoring groups have warned for months of the rising human cost of the coalition’s air war, particularly as the battle for Isil’s so-called capital of Raqqa intensifies
The US, UK and other coalition members have provided air support for allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground.The coalition insists it takes every measure to avoid hitting civilians, but residents say they are increasingly becoming collateral damage.
“We note in particular that the intensification of airstrikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced,” Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said earlier this month.
In March, more than 200 mostly women and children were reported to have been killed while they seeking refuge in a school building in the village of Mansoura.
Alarmingly high civilian tolls are also being reported in the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the battle to dislodge the jihadists is in the final throes.
.One of the reasons for the high level of civilian casualties appears to be a reliance on air power to advance the offensive against ISIS. For example, in one incident in March more than 150 civilians were killed in a March 17th incident when a 500lb bomb was dropped on a house in order to take out two ISIS snipers who had taken refuge on the roof of the building. It’s unclear if there was an effort made to determine if there were civilians in the building before the bomb was dropped.
Obviously, it’s hard to avoid civilian casualties when you’re dealing with an enemy that hides out among a civilian population. Israel has faced the same problem in its various skirmishes with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and sometimes it’s unavoidable or its simply the case that the authorities on the ground may not know there are civilians in the area. At the same time, though, this isn’t exactly the best way to fight a war like this since it’s like to create as many enemies as it kills.