‘484 civilians killed’ in US-led strikes against ISIL
US military reports 484 civilian deaths by US-led coalition strikes, but outside monitors put the number much higher.
The US military said that coalition attacks on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq have killed more than 480 civilians since mid-2014 – a tally that is far below those of outside monitors.
US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement on Friday that it added an additional 132 civilians deaths to its April report, a sharp increase from 352 it previously reported in late April.
However, that total, which only includes civilian deaths through April, was still far short of what non-governmental organisations and monitors have estimated.
Airwars, a London-based collective of journalists and researchers that tracks civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, estimated more than 3,800 non-combatants have been killed since the US-led coalition’s operations began in August 2014.
CENTCOM’s estimate includes 105 civilians killed in a US-led air raid in March against a building in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the single deadliest incident for civilians arising from a coalition strike since anti-ISIL operations began in Iraq and Syria nearly three years ago.
Separately, Al Jazeera’s sources recently said more than 120 civilians were killed in less than a week as Iraqi forces – backed by coalition air power – move to take the remaining pockets of territory held by ISIL in Mosul.
In a statement emailed to Al Jazeera earlier on Friday by the Operation Inherent Resolve press office, the coalition said it “is aware of allegations of civilian casualties”.
It added that the “coalition and Iraqi security forces are making every attempt to safeguard civilians as they liberate the city from ISIS terrorists who are using snipers to target civilians trying to flee the city … The coalition takes all allegations of civilian casualties serious and will assess the allegations”.
The battle to recapture the last stronghold of ISIL in Iraq has now entered its eighth month.
Iraqi government forces, backed by US advisers, artillery and air support, have cleared the east and most of western Mosul and are now focused on controlling the Old City with Iraqi civilians paying a heavy price.
“We moved out and got frightened by heavy air strikes,” one civilian who escaped the fighting in western Mosul told Al Jazeera. “We fled after our house was destroyed by mortar shelling.”