The Daily Beast reports: An internal military investigation has concluded that two civilians were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, two defense officials confirmed to The Daily Beast, marking the first time the U.S. military has acknowledged killing a civilian since the air campaign began nine months ago.
In that time, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 3,500 strikes and either destroyed or damaged more than 6,000 targets, according to the Defense Department. Previously, the U.S. military had said it had no evidence that a civilian had ever been killed in the air campaign against ISIS, a claim that even military officials privately acknowledged was hard to believe, given the high odds of unintended mistakes.
Indeed, with no U.S. soldiers on the ground to assess the damage inflicted by airstrikes, the coalition’s air campaign is built on U.S. intelligence collected from drones, satellites, and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as information from local troops.
The findings of two civilian deaths come as one human rights group has alleged that coalition airstrikes on April 30 in the Syrian village of Bir Mahli killed as many as 64 civilians. Bir Mahli sits in Aleppo Province, east of the Euphrates River, and about 30 miles south of the northern city of Kobani. The allegation, which the U.S. military said it has no evidence to corroborate, is the highest civilian death toll accusation leveled at the coalition.
The U.S. military’s claim of no civilian casualties in its campaign against ISIS, coupled with the lack of detailed accounting of what effect the strikes are having, has only underscored the opaque nature of the battle, fought largely from the air with uncertain outcomes. [Continue reading…]