Civilian Deaths From US-Led Strikes Surge Under Trump

Iraqis flee Mosul, Iraq. (File Photo)Iraqis flee Mosul, Iraq. (File Photo)

Civilian casualties have increased sharply in the US-led military campaign against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, with nearly 60% of the officially acknowledged deaths from the three-year war being reported in the first three months of the Trump administration.

US Central Command (Centcom) admitted to 484 civilian deaths up to the end of April as a result of coalition strikes as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, which began in August 2014. That compares with a cumulative total of 199 announced at the beginning of February, Guardian reported.

The tallies are limited to those incidents that the US military has been able to investigate and confirm. The true death toll is likely to be much higher, as the battle to wrest control of densely-populated west Mosul in Iraq from IS continues, and the battle gets started for the IS stronghold in Syria, in Raqqa.

Airwars, a UK-based watchdog group, estimates the civilian death toll from coalition airstrikes at over 3,800.

A Centcom spokesman said the dramatic spike was largely caused by a single strike on 17 March when the bombing of a building in Mosul aimed at killing two IS snipers brought down a building, killing 105 civilians.  The spokesman also said 80 previously undisclosed civilian deaths from earlier incidents had been added to the cumulative total in April.

However, human rights groups and other observers point to an array of other factors that suggest civilian deaths from the counter-IS campaign are likely to remain high and probably climb.

One of those factors is a legacy of the last weeks of the Obama administration, when targeting procedures were changed, removing the requirement for each sortie to be approved by a central “strike cell” in Baghdad.


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