WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US military is reviewing several incidents in which civilians may have been killed in coalition air strikes against Islamic State radical militants in Iraq and Syria, officials said Tuesday.
The comments marked the first time the US military has acknowledged that the air war may have exacted a toll on civilians.
US Central Command, which is overseeing the air campaign, initially looked into 18 cases and concluded 13 were not credible but five merited further review. Of those, two incidents – one in Iraq and one in Syria – prompted formal investigations, defence officials told AFP.
The current probes involved one case that occurred as recently as December 26, officials said.
“What I know is that Central Command is investigating several (of) what they believe to be credible allegations of civilian casualties,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
“This is something we always take seriously. We are very mindful of trying to mitigate the risk to civilians every time we operate, everywhere we operate.”
His comments marked a shift as the Pentagon had insisted for months they had not confirmed any instance of civilian deaths from the bombing raids.
Human rights organisations, however, have previously reported that dozens of civilians have been killed in the US-led air strikes, mainly in Syria.