4,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria have been killed this year by airstrikes ostensibly targeting ISIS, NGOs says
More than 4,000 civilians have been killed during 2014 – 2015 by “indiscriminate bombardments” targetted at ISIS (or Daesh militant group) by Iraqi, Syrian, U.S.-led and Russian military aircraft in Iraq and Syria, according to a report released by two UK-based rights groups.
In a press release, the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights and the Minority Rights Group International, said that more than 2,800 civilians had been killed in Iraq by airstrikes carried out by the Iraqi military and the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition.
Majority of the deaths, over 2,800, resulted from often indiscriminate bombardment by the Iraqi Security Forces. “Hundreds of other civilians have been killed in anti-ISIS airstrikes carried out by members of the US-led international coalition, by the Syrian Air Force, and more recently by Russian forces, among others” the Report claims.
Civilian populations in Fallujah and other cities in western and northern Iraq, and in Raqqa, Aleppo and other areas of eastern and northern Syria, have been subjected to an unremitting and often indiscriminate bombardment, including the use of barrel bombs, that has left residential areas destroyed and caused extensive damage to schools, hospitals and mosques.
‘We are told that international military involvement in both Iraq and Syria is dedicated to support of the Iraqi government and the collective self-defence of Iraq – but members of the international coalition are turning a blind eye to the rapidly-increasing combined civilian death toll from Iraqi and coalition bombing,’ said Mark Lattimer, Ceasefire’s Director.
Another 1,200 civilians, the two groups asserted, had been killed in Syria by what it described as “indiscriminate” airstrikes carried out by Russia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The two groups also noted that civilian areas in both countries had been the frequent targets of “barrel bombs”. Barrel bombs are improvised containers packed with shrapnel and explosive material. Usually dropped from army helicopters, these low-cost munitions are believed to have killed thousands of people in Syria since the conflict began in early 2011.
‘Families have a right to know the fate of their relatives,’ added Mark Lattimer. ‘Coalition members had a policy in Afghanistan of acknowledging civilian deaths immediately and investigating them transparently, but that policy appears to have been abandoned for operations in Iraq and Syria. What have they got to hide?’
According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, for its part, said recently that Russian airstrikes in Syria had killed more than 1,500 people since Sept. 30. Within the last two months, the rights group said that Russian airstrikes in Syria had killed 485 civilians — including 117 children and 47 women — along with 419 Daesh militants and 598 militants from the Nusra Front and other armed opposition groups.
The Report ‘Civilian deaths in the anti-ISIS bombing campaigns 2014 – 2015’ compiled data from available monitoring information based on credible local civilian sources, local media reports, UN casualty statistics, Iraqi government sources and the work of UK-based monitoring groups.
Recommendations from the report include:
- All credible allegations of civilian casualties should be subject to an effective, prompt, thorough and impartial investigation, and the results made transparent, with a view to suppressing breaches of international humanitarian law and violations of human rights and securing reparation for victims and their families;
- The international coalition should seek to ensure that both its individual members, and the Iraqi Security Forces it supports, prohibit attacks targeted at civilians or civilian objects, prohibit indiscriminate attacks and take all feasible precautions to avoid or at least minimise civilian death or injury;
- Any decision to undertake further military action should put in place adequate mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the action according to its effect on the civilian population.