As Civilian Toll Grows, Pentagon’s Undercount in Iraq, Syria Worsens

Attack That Killed Nearly 300 Civilians Becomes 14 in 'Official' Count

Throughout the ISIS war, Pentagon reports on civilian casualties in their airstrikes have been insultingly low,, with their official figure well less than 10% of the count as figured by private organizations. As the civilian deaths grow in the air war, that undercount is becoming even more dramatic, and the oversights all the more glaring.

The official March count is 26 civilians killed, which is one of the higher single-month totals in recent Pentagon reports, but also far, far below the well-documented figures of even individual airstrikes by the US in the course of that month.

On March 17, US planes attacked and destroyed three buildings in Western Mosul’s Old City, burying massive numbers of civilians under the rubble. Preliminary tolls around the attack put the deaths in excess of 200 civilians, and ultimately it was believed to be closer to 300 civilian killed. The Pentagon admitted to the incident to. Somehow, “nearly 300” became 14 civilians by the time it got to the report.

That means they admitted to about 5% of the deaths, which is better than the attack they launched the day before in al-Jineh, Syria, destroying a mosque and killing scores of civilians within. This incident didn’t even manage to make it into the final toll.

Indeed, while hardly a day went by in the past couple of months without US strikes causing civilian casualties, the whole Pentagon report for March boiled down to three incidents, and even those were dramatically understated. The Pentagon insists it does all it can to prevent civilian deaths, but in practice this has meant doing all it can to cover them up.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of