Hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria have been killed by coalition airstrikes in the past two weeks, raising questions over whether the US-led coalition has taken adequate precautions. The FT's Erika Solomon reports.
Produced and edited by Felline Reyes. Footage from Reuters.
An escalated campaign by US-led coalition forces against jihadi militants has taken a deadly toll on civilians. Hundreds have been killed across Iraq and Syria, in the past two weeks alone, raising questions over whether enough effort has been made to avoid civilian casualties. The outrage has grown after a coalition airstrike on ISIS militants in Iraq's city of Mosul is believed to have killed 150 civilians in the al-Jadida distract.
The coalition on Sunday, confirmed it launched a strike in the area says it is investigating the incident. But this strike is only one of many in recent weeks that are raising concerns Washington is loosening its rules of engagement under President Donald Trump. The Pentagon denies this and says it is still taking every precaution to avoid civilian casualties. The locals digging their loved ones out from the rubble see it differently. Many are asking why hitting a few ISIS militants can justify bombing a building where dozens of civilians are seeking shelter from the fight.
The coalition provides air cover to its partners in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria, where local forces there are also fighting to defeat ISIS. In Syria, where a six-year civil war has been raging, local residents once said they were least frightened of coalition forces of all the combatants using their skies. But that is changing as air strikes ratchet up, and with them, the civilian death tolls.
Over the last two weeks activists say coalition airstrikes have killed more than 138 people in Syria's northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate. 19 of those victims were said to be children. The rising death toll is often portrayed as the consequence of a more aggressive approach by Mr. Trump. But rights groups say there was a worrying civilian death toll under the Obama administration as well.
Amnesty International, this week, released an investigation of Mosul districts recaptured earlier this year. It said the coalition had not taken enough precautions then either to avoid civilian deaths, especially since the Iraqi government had called for civilians to stay in their homes rather than flee. It documented several cases where dozens of people from a single family were killed in one strike. If these attacks are proven to be disproportionate or indiscriminate, it says, they could be considered war crimes.