Pentagon Says Two Children Likely Killed in U.S. Airstrikes Last Year
WASHINGTON, May 21 (UPI) — The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time on Thursday civilian casualties who have died since the United States first began military action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq last year, sources reportedly said.
An unnamed defense official told the Washington Post that two casualties have died since a campaign of heavy airstrikes commenced in August.
Both of the casualties acknowledged by the Pentagon were children, the official said, and likely died in airstrikes on Harim, Syria on Nov. 5 and 6. Those strikes were intended for an al-Qaida cell known as the Khorasan group.
Officials have reportedly stated that they weren’t aware any children lived at the site. Also, most analysts agree, it is likely that the true casualty numbers are far higher.
U.S. Central Command, or Centcom, is investigating civilian casualties in the U.S. conflict with Islamic State terrorists — and is reportedly looking into at least three other reports of noncombatant deaths: two in Iraq and another in Syria.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in obtaining accurate casualty numbers is the fact that very few U.S. troops are on the ground in Iraq, and none are in Syria. The Pentagon’s action has been limited to airstrikes due to this fact.
Since August, the United States has launched more than 4,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria — where Islamic State radicals have been the most active — and the low instances of collateral damage, the Pentagon says, is a testament to the pinpoint accuracy of their weapons and intelligence.
“We take all possible measures to prevent casualties to noncombatants,” the source told the Post.
Coalition forces have also been bombing suspected terrorist sites in both nations.
“We regret the unintentional loss of lives,” Lt. General James Terry, head of the US-led campaign, said in a report by BBC News.