U.S.-led Coalition Confirms 54 Additional Civilian Deaths in Iraq and Syria Airstrikes

PHOTO: This undated file image shows a U.S. Air Force F-16 on patrol over the "No-Fly Zone" in Northern Iraq. PlayU.S. Air Force/Getty Images
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The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS says 54 more civilians were inadvertently killed in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that took place between March 31 and October 22. Since they began in August of 2014, the coalition has reported 173 civilians killed by coalition airstrikes and another 37 injured.

"We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives resulting from Coalition efforts to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes," said a statement released Thursday by Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).

The coalition investigates reports of civilian casualties to determine if they are credible and periodically releases updates about its investigations.

As of November 17, U.S. and coalition aircraft have conducted a total of 16,291 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, with 12,633 conducted by American aircraft.

The coalition statement said their team "investigates all reports of possible civilian casualties using traditional investigative methods, such as interviewing witnesses and examining the site, the Coalition interviews pilots, reviews strike video when available, and analyzes information provided by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, partner forces and traditional and social media."

"In addition, we consider new information when it becomes available in order to promote a thorough and continuous review process," they continued.

In this recent investigation, 276 allegations of civilian casualties were investigated; they found 83 of them to be credible.

They described 7 incidents between March 31 and October 22 that resulted in 54 civilian fatalities, two of which resulted in 39 of the 54 civilian deaths detailed in the coalition's statement.

Airstrikes on July 18, 2016, near the northern city of Manbij, Syria, killed nearly 100 ISIS fighters, destroyed 13 fighting positions and 10 vehicles, according to the report. But the coalition's investigation determined that up to 24 civilians "interspersed with combatants were inadvertently killed in a known ISIL staging area where no civilians had been seen in the 24 hours prior to the attack."

According to the statement, the ISIS fighters were preparing for a large counterattack against Syrian rebel forces who were fighting to retake the ISIS-held city.

"Unknown to Coalition planners, civilians were moving around within the military staging area, even as other civilians in the nearby village had departed over the previous days," the Centcom statement said.

Another 15 civilians were killed in an airstrike on July 28, 2016 near Arghanndorh, Syria that targeted a moving ISIS vehicle. "15 civilians were inadvertently killed when the munition struck the vehicle after it slowed in a populated area after the munition was released," said the statement.

Investigations determined that twelve alleged reports of civilian casualties between September, 2015 and October, 2016 were not found to be credible. Three additional allegations remain under investigation.