Four years of coalition strikes on Syria kill 3,300 civilians: monitor

Rebel fighters from the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement walk on a hill in Jabal al-Arbaeen, which overlooks the northern town of Ariha, one of the last government strongholds in the Idlib province May 26, 2015. (Reuters)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Four years of coalition strikes on Syria kill 3,300 civilians: monitor

  • The Washington-led alliance puts the toll at just over 1,000 civilians in both Syria and neighboring Iraq
  • “Among those killed are 826 children and 615 women,” said the Observatory

BEIRUT: More than 3,000 civilians have been killed in US-led coalition air strikes against the Daesh group in Syria since they began four years ago, a monitor said on Sunday.
The Washington-led alliance puts the toll at just over 1,000 civilians in both Syria and neighboring Iraq, and says it does all it can to prevent civilian deaths.
The coalition began bombing Daesh targets in Iraq in August 2014 after the jihadist group seized swathes of territory straddling the two countries, proclaiming an Islamic “caliphate.”
The coalition extended its strikes to Syria on September 23, 2014.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said on Sunday those Syria strikes had since killed 3,331 civilians.
The monitor relies on a network of sources inside Syria and tracks flight patterns, aircraft involved and ammunition used to determine who carries out raids.
“Among those killed are 826 children and 615 women,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
The coalition says it takes every possible precaution to prevent civilian deaths.
In its latest civilian casualty report published last month, the coalition said its strikes had unintentionally killed 1,061 civilians in both Iraq and Syria up until July 30, 2018.
It is still assessing a further 216 reports of civilian casualties, some of them in strikes dating back to 2014.
Asked if the coalition could specify how many of the confirmed casualties were in Syria, spokesman Sean Ryan said it “does not breakdown strikes by type, platform, munition, region or nation.”
“As far any discrepancy in numbers, the coalition is basing the findings on facts and evidence. We are not claiming to provide exact numbers, but saying it is based on the best available evidence,” he told AFP.
Ryan said the coalition remained willing to work with anyone to investigate allegations and asked other monitors to share what metrics they were using to determine casualties.
Rights groups have criticized the coalition for not pursuing investigations of civilian casualties rigorously enough.
In June, Amnesty International said the coalition’s bombing raids of Daesh’s de facto Syrian capital Raqqa last year may amount to “potential war crimes.”
“The artificially low number of civilian casualties the coalition acknowledges stems in part from poor investigation procedures that fail even to involve on-the-ground research,” it said at the time.
The coalition’s operations have largely wound down, with the jihadists ousted from all but tiny bits of territory in Syria.
More than 360,000 people have been killed across Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011, nearly a third of them civilians, according to the Observatory.


US-backed Syria offensive kills 35 Daesh fighters: monitor

Updated 20 October 2018
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US-backed Syria offensive kills 35 Daesh fighters: monitor

BEIRUT: An offensive by US-backed forces against Daesh’s last redoubt in eastern Syria killed 35 militants on Saturday, a Britain-based war monitor said.
Twenty-eight Daesh members were killed in air strikes by the US-led coalition around the town of Hajjin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Another seven militants were killed in ground fighting with the Syrian Democratic Forces, who launched a coalition-backed offensive against the Daesh-held pocket in the Euphrates Valley last month.
Fighting has killed 414 militants and 227 SDF fighters in total since the assault began on September 10, the Observatory said.
Coalition air strikes on Daesh targets in another part of the pocket on Thursday and Friday killed at least 41 civilians, 10 of them children, the monitor said.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” across the land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the Hajjin pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.