The number of civilian casualties inflicted in the U.S.-led coalition’s war on the Islamic State is set to double under the Trump administration, according to an investigation conducted by Airwars, a group that monitors noncombatant deaths in Iraq and Syria.
Airwars estimates that at least 2,300 civilians were killed in coalition strikes overseen by the Obama White House, about 80 per month in Iraq and Syria. As of July 13, however, already more than 2,200 additional casualties have been inflicted under the Trump administration, about 360 per month, or 12 more civilians killed every single day.
The coalition’s own data, though drastically lower than other estimates, confirms the same trend, with 40 percent of the 603 admitted casualties occurring in the first four months of Trump’s presidency.
While the high death tolls are in part explained by the fact that, under Trump, the coalition entered into brutal, close quarters combat in densely populated urban areas, such as Mosul’s Old City, protections for civilians have also been loosened under the new administration.
Some American officials insist the coalition is carrying out “the most precise air campaign in history,” yet others, such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis, refer to “annihilation tactics,” which perhaps does not square with the notion of extreme concern for civilian death.
In March, the coalition carried out a strike that killed up to 278 people. While the coalition insisted the Islamic State was somehow responsible for the deaths, it ultimately admitted to 100 casualties in the strike.
Another strike in early June saw some 200 more dead civilians, apparently another example of the coalition’s precision.
Airwars estimates that the approximate civilian death toll will have nearly doubled after Trump’s first six months in office, only days away.
“Remarkably, when I interview families at camps who have just fled the fighting, the first thing they complain about is not the three horrific years they spent under ISIS, or the last months of no food or clean water, but the American airstrikes,” Belkis Wille, Iraq researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast. “Many told me that they survived such hardship, and almost made it out with the families, only to lose all their loved ones in a strike before they had time to flee.”
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