US Airstrike contributes to Syrian civilian death toll

United States military admitted to killing 352 civilians since 2014. United States military admitted to killing 352 civilians since 2014. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

21 June 2017
A coalition strike led by the United States in Al Mayadeen has resulted in 106 civilians, including 42 children, losing their lives.

A series of airstrikes targeting Al Mayadeen in Deir Az Zor, Syria occurred on Thursday, 25 May 2017. Most of the civilians killed were Moroccan and Syrian nationals who had fled from the ISIS controlled town of Raqqa.

The US-led coalition is in the region to back two of the ground offensives against both Raqqa in Northern Syria and Mosul in neighbouring Iraq. Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane stated that the airstrikes are related to the December Directive, which was a memo sent by Barack Obama that enables commanders on the ground to bypass the Pentagon and to order airstrikes, as well as easing the restrictions on when they can fire. Culhane states“they used to have to have ‘near certainty’ that no civilians would be killed. It’s a much looser rule now”.

Throughout recent years, civilians have begun to increasingly pay the price from the attacks against ISIS. On 14 May, there was an airstrike that killed 23 farm workers in Raqqa. The day after, another airstrike killed about 59 civilians and wounded dozens in al-Bukamal, another ISIS-controlled part of Syria. The day after the incident in al-Bukamal, ISIS fighters cut the throats of eight men at the site of the attack, as they were accused of providing coordinates for the air strikes.

During the week of the 25th of May, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the highest monthly civilian death toll for the coalition’s operations in Syria. The US military confirmed that American-led airstrikes have been responsible for at least 352 civilian deaths since the beginning of the war against ISIS. Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the 68-member coalition against ISIS, did not have anything specific to say on the Al Mayadeen incident, but stated that the allegations on civilian casualties are being taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.


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