At least 600 civilians killed by coalition strikes since 2014

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT: At least 600 civilians have been killed in strikes in Iraq and Syria by the US-led coalition fighting IS 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 says a total of at least 4,354 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes.
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 an IS headquarters that caused a secondary explosion in the adjacent building.
Since the start of the campaign against IS militants, the coalition has carried out nearly 22,000 strikes and has received 727 reports of potential civilian casualties, the report said.
The coalition, battling to defeat IS militants in Iraq and Syria, says it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties.
Ahead of a final assault on Raqa 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.”
Heavy bombardment near Damascus: Government forces carried out heavy bombardment on Friday of a rebel-held district on the eastern edge of the Syrian capital in support of advancing troops, an activist and monitor said.
Ain Terma lies in Eastern Ghouta, the largest rebel enclave around Damascus, which is part of an envisioned “de-escalation zone” agreed by regional powers in May.
The neighbourhood links Eastern Ghouta to the opposition-held Damascus neighbourhood of Jobar.
“There were a number of air strikes and the regime is trying to storm Ain Terma,” said Hamza Abbas, an activist inside the area.
“The houses are shaking from the intensity of the shelling and I can see smoke,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said at least five regime air strikes and three regime rockets hit Ain Terma.
Government troops on the ground seized the neighbourhood’s marble factory and surrounding territory, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. — AFP