Western airstrikes killing civilians in Iraq and Syria

The United States military is investigating reports of civilian casualties that may have occurred as part of the American-led fight against the Sunni militancy known as the Islamic State, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/world/middleeast/reports-of-civilian-deaths-prompt-inquiry-into-strikes-against-isis.html?ref=world
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters during a news conference that investigators with the United States Central Command had begun looking into whether coalition airstrikes, which have targeted Islamic State fighters, equipment and oil depots, may have inadvertently hit civilians. Admiral Kirby said he had no additional information. It was the first time that the Pentagon had acknowledged that the air campaign against the Islamic State may have caused civilian deaths.
Sgt. First Class Sheryl Lawry, a spokeswoman for Central Command in Tampa, Fla., said in an email that Centcom was investigating two instances, one in Iraq and one in Syria, that may have resulted in civilian casualties. The investigations are a result of Centcom’s internal review process. Another three reports of civilian casualties are pending an internal assessment before determining whether they need to be investigated, she said.
The military has examined the credibility of 18 allegations that coalition airstrikes led to civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria from Aug. 8 to Dec. 30 last year, Sgt. Lawry said. Of those, 13 have been determined not to be credible.
Of the 18 allegations, nine were said to have taken place in Syria, and nine in Iraq, she said, adding that no further details would be provided until the investigations were finished.
Since the bombing campaign against the Islamic State began in August, American military officials have maintained that they had no reports of civilian casualties. Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, the commander of the coalition of countries that is
fighting the Islamic State, told reporters last month that the military had been going out of its way to avoid civilian casualties.
“To date, we’ve got a very good record,” General Terry said. “I am tracking no civilian casualties.”
Admiral Kirby said that the United States had made some progress in its effort to find moderate Syrian rebels to train to fight the Islamic State, adding that a United States-led training mission could begin as early as spring. Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata, commander of the American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, has been working with Syrian opposition groups to identify and recruit Syrian forces.
The training is expected to take place in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and perhaps Turkey, officials said.
Turkey, which has thus far been a reluctant ally in the fight against the Sunni
militants, has more recently indicated that it might be willing to host a training
Facility.

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