US Airstrikes May Have Killed 64 Civilians in Iraq, Syria: Centcom

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http://www.In this 2015 photo, Iraqi families fleeing violence in Ramadi walk across Bzebiz Bridge into Baghdad province. (Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/UNICEF).com/army

U.S. airstrikes may have killed 64 civilians and injured eight more in Iraq and Syria during the past year, officials said.

U.S. Central Command on Wednesday released a statement saying two dozen airstrikes launched by American warplanes and meant to target militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, may have “regrettably” struck civilians instead.

“It’s a key tenant of the counter-ISIL air campaign that we do not want to add to the tragedy of the situation by inflicting addition suffering,” Col. John J. Thomas, a command spokesman, said in the statement, using another term for ISIS.

“Sometimes civilians bear the brunt of military action but we do all we can to minimize those occurrences even at the cost of sometimes missing the chance to strike valid targets in real time,” he added.

The release included short descriptions of the 24 airstrikes, which targeted ISIS leaders, fighters, weapons, storage facilities and other targets from Nov. 20, 2015, through Sept. 10, 2016, the release states. More than a third of the bombings occurred in Mosul in Iraq. Other strikes occurred in and around Qayyarah, Kisik, Qayyarah and Ramadi, Iraq; and Dayr Az Zawr, Ar Raqqah and Manbij in Syria, it states.

Investigators reviewed military records and outside sources such as news reports and other accounting by independent organizations and U.S. agencies, the release states.

The Pentagon has previously acknowledged that at least 55 civilians were killed in airstrikes since the U.S. air campaign against ISIS began in August 2014.

The latest estimate represents the largest number of civilian casualties since the air war against ISIS began. Taken together with the previous figures, the total death toll from U.S. airstrikes in the campaign stands at about 119 civilians.

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