US-led coalition air strikes in the final days of 2017 killed at least 14 and as many as 21 civilians, including six children, in Syria’s Deir Ezzor governate, according to monitor groups and local media reports.
On December 25, Deir Ezzor 24 reported six residents of the desert town of Granig died when coalition warplanes attacked the home of the al-Abdullah family in the al-Samra neighborhood. The dead included Elias Khader al-Abdullah as well as his unnamed wife and daughter. According to reports, the air strike targeted Islamic State (IS) fighters believed to be in the home. An unspecified number of IS militants also died in the raid.
Step News Agency reported three additional civilians died in the attack and that some of the victims were killed when coalition warplanes returned to the site and bombed an ambulance that was aiding survivors of the initial bombing.
Ten civilians were reportedly injured in the attack.
The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars cited local media reports of an elderly man, identified as Karim Makhkhalf al-Hamoud al-Faraj, killed in a December 29 coalition air strike in al-Bahra.
In the deadliest recent incident, as many as 12 civilians, including five children, were reportedly killed in a December 31 coalition air strike in Sussah. Baladi reported 12 members of the Ali Dahsh family were killed in the attack. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also said 12 civilians died in the raid.
These latest reports came as US Defense Secretary James Mattis defended US efforts to prevent civilian casualties in Yemen, where Washington is backing a war led by the Sunni fundamentalist monarchy Saudi Arabia against Shia Houthi rebels. Mattis’ remarks followed Saudi coalition air strikes on a crowded market and farm that killed scores of civilians.
Mattis and other US military and government officials claim great care is taken to avoid harming civilians, and that the US war against IS and other Islamist terrorists is “the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.” However, civilian casualties have soared in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia since President Donald Trump — who during the 2016 campaign promised to “bomb the shit out of” IS and “take out their families” — took office last year. Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians as he escalated the intensity of the US war against IS and other extremist groups, and by last spring, American bombs were killing more Syrian civilians than President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, IS fighters or Russian air strikes. In June 2017, United Nations war crimes investigators condemned the “staggering loss of civilian life” caused by US-led bombing in Syria.
The Pentagon officially accepts responsibility for killing around 800 Syrian and Iraqi civilians since the anti-IS campaign began in August 2014. However, human rights and monitor groups universally assert the actual civilian death toll is far higher. Airwars estimates at least 5,975 civilians have been killed in more than 28,000 US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
The vast majority of the more than 400,000 Syrians who have died during the country’s nearly seven-year civil were killed by Assad’s forces. However, in the wider war against terrorism waged ceaselessly by the US since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, at least hundreds of thousands, and perhaps more than 1.3 million people, have been killed in more than half a dozen predominantly Muslim nations.
Since the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan to end World War II, the US has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.