Officials with the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State found none of the civilian casualty reports assessed in September to be credible, according to a monthly report released this week.
“Out of the 104 completed casualty reports, none of the reports were determined to be credible and resulted in zero unintentional civilian deaths,” according to Operation Inherent Resolve’s statement accompanying the report.
Many of the civilian casualty reports that were assessed were submitted by Airwars, a London-based nonprofit that tracks and archives airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
“Airwars continues to engage constructively with the coalition’s own civilian harm monitoring team — and has been encouraged, for example, by some recent improvements in OIR data sharing with us,” Chris Woods, who leads Airwars, told Air Force Times.
That said, the latest coalition monthly casualty report raised concerns, Wood said.
“For the first time that we can recall [since December 2016] the U.S.-led coalition has given itself a clean bill of health on every one of the allegations assessed this month — all 104 of them — and in addition boasts of ‘zero unintentional civilian deaths,'” Woods said.
“In the view of Airwars,” he added, “that claim of no civilian harm speaks to systemic flaws in OIR’s casualty monitoring — and the notorious unwillingness of the coalition’s Syrian ground partners, the SDF, to concede any civilian harm from their own actions.”
Inherent Resolve has been waging a bombing campaign to back up Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. advisers on the ground since 2014.
The air-ground campaign has liberated nearly 8 million Iraqis and Syrians from ISIS authority and reduced its control of territory to approximately 1 percent of what it previously held, according to Inherent Resolve.
The coalition conducted more than 30,000 strikes between August 2014 and the end of September this year, and has determined that at least 1,114 civilians have been unintentionally killed as a result.
“We continue to employ thorough and deliberate targeting and strike processes to minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure,” coalition officials wrote in their report. “This process includes thorough review and vetting of each target package prior to a strike, and another review after that strike.”
U.S. troops and their local partner forces have surrounded what has been called the “last pocket of ISIS resistance,” according to military officials involved in the campaign.
“As we have demonstrated, we are willing to consider new civilian casualty allegations as well as new or compelling evidence on past allegations,” the officials added.
Inherent Resolve releases strike reports on a weekly basis, in addition to the monthly civilian casualty reports, all of which are publicly available.
In the month of September, Inherent Resolve carried over 310 open reports from previous months and received one new report. The coalition completed the investigations for the 104 reports found to be not credible, they said.
A total of 207 reports are still open.
The Inherent Resolve coalition is currently assisting its Syrian partners through a bitter battle in the middle Euphrates River valley to uproot the final remnants of ISIS along the Syrian-Iraq border. That final push is called called Operation Roundup.
“We would hope the coalition [would] look at why its own estimates remain so out of step with credible reports from Syrians themselves on the ground," Woods said.