Hundreds of Civilian Deaths from Anti-ISIL Strikes Pass Unremarked in Obama's Final Days
Airwars' latest report on the situation in Mosul, where Britain is participating in coalition military strikes
In the last weeks of the Obama presidency, the US-led air war against so-called Islamic State intensified dramatically – leading to hundreds of likely civilian deaths. Yet in contrast to recent events at Aleppo, international press coverage has been largely absent.
Since the official start of operations to capture Mosul on October 17th, Airwars researchers have tracked 91 civilian casualty events from alleged Coalition airstrikes in and around the city. Hundreds more incidents have been due to attacks by so-called Islamic State, and from Iraqi military operations.
So far four Coalition cases have been confirmed, taking the lives of at least 20 civilians at Mosul. A further 35 incidents have been graded as “fair” by Airwars researchers – meaning there are two or more credible local reports and Coalition airstrikes reported in the near vicinity. Based on Airwars assessments, those additional alleged strikes likely claimed the lives of between 294 and 350 civilians in Mosul.
The tally includes eleven members of the Mahmood family. who died in Mosul on December 13th after an airstrike targeted a nearby ISIL sniper. According to relatives, their bodies lay under rubble for a month before they could be retrieved (see picture).
In the same period – from October 17th onward – Airwars researchers tracked 62 alleged civilian casualty incidents stemming from Coalition operations supporting US proxy ground forces in Raqqa governorate. Two of those incidents have been confirmed by the Coalition, while a further 43 were rated “fair” by Airwars researchers. Based on Airwars monitoring, those incidents appear likely to have claimed the lives of another 154 to 229 civilians.
Both Mosul and the Raqqa area are being hit heavily by foreign airpower, leaving many civilians dead amid siege-like conditions. But in the waning days of the Obama administration – and just after the much-covered fall of rebel-held Aleppo – media interest has shifted. In total, 450 or more civilians appear to have been killed in intense Coalition actions across Iraq and Syria since October – yet their deaths have largely been ignored.
“With reported fatalities from Coalition strikes at record levels we would have expected significant media engagement,” says Airwars Director Chris Woods. “Instead, anything beyond local reporting has been almost non-existent.”
“Every time strikes are stepped up we see a notable rise in allegations of civilian casualties," says chief Airwars Syria researcher Kinda Haddad. "This is because ISIL is based in civilian centres and not on an imaginary front line. They live among civilians and their offices are located on main streets and in residential and office buildings. So while individually they may be legitimate military targets, their location means they are in effect also civilian targets.”