In a report released on November 16, the US newspaper New York Times revealed that one out of every five strikes of the US-led coalition against ISIS resulted in civilian deaths.
The New York Times investigated the US-led coalition claims on the ground and visited the sites of 150 airstrikes in three areas in northern Iraq between 2016 and 2017. The New York Times journalists met with relatives of victims who were killed in the airstrikes.
As a result of its investigation, the New York Times found out that the real rate of civilian causalities was up to 31 times higher than what the US-led coalition admitted.
The US-led coalition claims that only 89 airstrikes out of 14,000 conducted against ISIS since 2014 had resulted in civilian casualties. The New York Times investigation said that civilians were killed in 2,800 airstrikes of the coalition.
The New York Times accused the US-led coalition of not mentioning many civilian victims in its reports and even of considering some airstrikes victims “ISIS supporters”. The New York Times report provided many examples of such cases.
In another report of the New York Times (29 May 2012), the newspaper accused the Obama administration of embracing a disputed method for counting civilian casualties. Several administration officials said that the method counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
It’s not the first time the US-led coalition being accused of killing large numbers of civilians during its war on ISIS. The Airwars project, which observes airstrikes against ISIS, says that 1,058 civilians were killed in US-led coalition airstrikes during the Raqqa battle alone.
The New York Times report raised some serious questions about the ethics of the US-led coalition war on ISIS. Especially after the BBC revealed a secret deal between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS, which allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters escape from Raqqa.