WASHINGTON: At least 600 civilians have been killed in strikes in Iraq and Syria by the US-led coalition fighting Daesh since the campaign began in 2014, according to a report released by the coalition on Friday.
The estimate in the monthly report, which said coalition strikes had unintentionally killed at least 603 civilians between August 2014 and May 2017, was far lower than figures provided by monitoring groups.
The monitoring group Airwars said a total of at least 4,354 civilians have been killed by coalition airstrikes.
The latest coalition report included an incident on April 17 near the Syrian town of Abu Kamal, in which it said 25 civilians were killed and 40 were wounded during a strike against Daesh headquarters that caused a secondary explosion in the adjacent building.
Since the start of the campaign against Daesh militants, the coalition has carried out nearly 22,000 strikes and has received 727 reports of potential civilian casualties, the report said.
Ahead of a final assault on Raqqa city in Syria, the UN human rights office raised concerns about increasing reports of civilian deaths in the area. In a May report, it said there had already been “massive civilian casualties.”
Meanwhile, Daesh militants fought on Friday to repel the advance of US-backed Syrian forces, days after they inched closer to the heart of the extremist group’s de facto capital of Raqqa.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Daesh fighters were waging counterattacks in the Old City of Raqqa, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have advanced some 200 meters beyond the city’s outer walls.
Syrian opposition fighters said they were preparing to join the Turkish military in a major new offensive against Kurdish forces in northwestern Syria, raising the prospect of yet another front in an increasingly complex conflict.
The goal of the battle would be to regain a string of Arab villages in Syria near the Turkish border that were seized last year by Kurdish-led militia fighters, the fighters told Reuters.
“There is a coming extensive joint operation we are preparing with the Turkish army to expel these extremist separatist militias (Kurdish YPG) from our land,” Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in the Western and Turkish-backed opposition group Liwa Al-Mutasem, said.