Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Militants near Syria Border

Apr 07, 2017, 02:14

That's why it's doubly important that the United States and its allies continue to adhere to protocols that minimize civilian casualties, investigate civilian deaths allegedly caused by American airstrikes, report the findings publicly and compensate aggrieved families.

That change, according to Army Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the US -led coalition, allowed USA field officers and their Iraqi counterparts to direct dynamic airstrikes - ones that are in immediate reaction to an ongoing fight or direct threat, rather than planned in advance.

The issue of civilian deaths has attracted new global attention since the release of vivid images of a March 17 airstrike in the Jadidah neighborhood in western Mosul that allegedly killed 200 or more Iraqi citizens.

Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, have been battling to retake the city of Mosul, Islamic State's stronghold in Iraq and the city where Baghdadi declared a caliphate almost three years ago.

Fighting is underway to recapture the city's western side.

The U.S. -led anti-Daesh coalition said in a report Saturday it has recorded 229 civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria since the beginning of its operations in 2014. The U.S. military did not confirm the Iraqi report, according to an NBC news report.

However, this technological supremacy didn't prevent collateral damage from taking place, as what happened in Mosul where up to 250 civilians were killed in an airstrike on March 17 that was purportedly launched by the U.S. Army.

Military officials have pointed to a new ISIS tactic of forcing civilians into buildings as one of the reasons for the recent increase in the danger to civilians.

Stephen Townsend, the senior USA commander in Iraq, said coalition forces "probably had a role in those casualties". But what still worries the US forces is whether Baghdadi will repeat what the late al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden had done - hide out for years even after his group's last known strongholds had fallen.

The official said other factors might have played into the deaths, including the Islamic State attempting to deceive targets.

The Iraqi government said its air force also killed between 150 and 200 ISIL militants in strikes further north along the Syrian border.

"Why does the US-led ... coalition, with this information, using their "smart bombs" still carry out airstrikes on buildings with civilians?" he added. The strikes and casualties could not be verified. "Daesh (IS) terrorists have forcibly transferred civilians, holding them as human shields as they retreated or at strategic locations in densely populated areas", Kubis said.

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