Washington: Eight civilians were killed and three others injured in a series of US air strikes carried out from April to July last year against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, the US military said today.
US Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees operations in the Middle East, said the deaths came during three strikes in Syria and two in Iraq, bringing to 12 the total number of civilians the US-led coalition has acknowledged killing in the two countries in 2015.
“We deeply regret the unintentional loss of life and injuries resulting from those air strikes,” CENTCOM said in a statement revealing the results of their investigations.
Two of the victims died April 12 near Hawijah in Iraq during a strike on an IS “tactical unit,” CENTCOM said, and three others were killed in another strike near Suluk in Syria on June 11.
On July 4, near the IS stronghold of Raqa in Syria, three civilians were “likely” killed during a strike against a high-value IS target.
The car and motorcycle they were traveling in had crossed into the target zone after the bomb was released, CENTCOM said.
Though the military used the term “likely,” their statement also says that in all the strikes, “civilian casualties unfortunately did occur.”
Officials said they had determined that all the air strikes complied with the law of armed conflict, “and all appropriate precautions were taken.”
The latest announcement marks the third time since the US-led coalition started bombing IS jihadists in August 2014 that the military has acknowledged civilian casualties.
In November last year, the Pentagon said four civilians had been killed in a US air strike against an IS checkpoint in Hatra in Iraq in March.
The military has also acknowledged the deaths of two children in Syria in November 2014.
Despite such incidents, US officials frequently boast of the accuracy of their bomb drops.
As of January 10, the coalition had carried out 9,560 strikes, and the Pentagon has said more than 97 per cent of such attacks hit their proper targets.
But air campaign critics claim coalition strikes are killing many more civilians than the United States has ever acknowledged.
Airwars, a London-based group of independent journalists, published a report in August saying “many hundreds” of civilians had been killed.