U.S. reports 64 civilian casualties in Iraq, Syria in the last year

TAMPA, Fla.,  Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria targeting the Islamic State killed 64 civilians in the past 12 months, U.S. Central Command reported on Wednesday.

Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria killed 64 civilians in the past 12 months, according to data released Wednesday by U.S. Central Command. Photo by Donald Holbert/U.S. Marine Corps/UPI | License Photo

Another eight civilians were injured, according to the report.

The new statistics indicate the official total of civilian casualties since the operation started in August 2014 is 119 killed and 37 injured. The figures remain considerably lower than those offered by the activist group Amnesty International, which says about 300 civilians have died in the airstrikes in Syria alone.

The U.S. -led coalition has conducted more than 16,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in the last two years. The bombing began in Iraq in August 2014 and in Syria in September 2014. The coalition said the number of strikes in October of this year averaged 10 per day.

The report included dates and locations of each airstrike; the largest cluster in the Mosul, Iraq, area, where Iraqi forces are involved in taking back the city, with the help of the airstrikes, from IS. The newly released casualty data do not include a July airstrike in Manbij, Syria, still under U.S. military investigation, where residents and human rights groups said more than 50 civilians were killed.

Central Command spokesman Col. John Thomas, in a statement, said the coalition works to prevent “unintended civilian casualties,” but added, “Sometimes civilians bear the brunt of military action but we do all we can to minimize those occurrences even at the cost of sometimes missing the chance to strike valid targets in real time.”

The United Nations has said IS is using tens of thousands of civilians as human shields, gathering residents near their positions to essentially ensure that airstrikes will have collateral damage.

By Ed Adamczyk