Pressure remains for full US-UK investigations into civilian deaths and war crimes
THE USA has conceded that it was responsible for five airstrikes in its Iraq-Syria campaign that killed civilians.
The admission follows a year and half of pressure for full disclosure on the human cost of the bombing campaign aimed at Daesh (Islamic State) militants in the region.
AirWars, the expert monitoring group of coalition airstrikes, welcomed the statement as a small step towards comprehending the full scale of human tragedy and death as a result of the ongoing conflict.
The group said the deaths were “a reminder that such deaths are a continuing reality of the 17-month air war against Daesh”.
“Airwars estimates that a further 803 to 1,127 civilians have likely died in an additional 132 problematic Coalition strikes since August 2014 – indicating a significant under-reporting of non-combatant deaths by the US and its allies.
“Yet in two further incidents, the US appears to be underestimating the number of civilians actually killed. Monitoring groups on the ground in Syria identified many more named civilians – including eight children – than the six ‘unnamed’ non-combatants which CENTCOM now says its forces killed.
“The US and its coalition partners clearly remain too dependent upon aerial-only surveillance in such cases – and must widen their investigations to include credible evidence from external media, NGOs and monitors,” AirWars added.
AirWars, which specialises in credible Arabic reports of casualties surrounding airstrikes, previously revealed links between UK airstrikes in Iraq and 72-81 civilian casualties.
CommonSpace first reported that the UK didn’t know who it was killing in its bombing campaign and then that it was refusing to accept reports of civilian casualties .
The UK Government has since changed its position with David Cameron promising to “look at” the eight detailed reports linking UK airstrikes to the deaths of innocent civilians.
However, campaigners have doubts that the UK will carry out the necessary investigations. The Chilcot report, into the bloody 2003 invasion of Iraq, has yet to be published. Similarly, war crimes committed by UK troops, confirmed by the International Criminal Court prosecutor, have not led to court cases.
Doctors Without Borders called for a war crimes investigation following the US bombing of its hospital in Kunduz. The UK also faces a legal case for complicity in reports of war crimes being committed in Yemen with British weapons.
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Picture courtesy of Defence Images