Pentagon Dramatically Under-reports Civilian Deaths in Syria Strikes

Officials Trying to Blame Mythical 'Restraint' for Failing War

In nine months of US and coalition airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, thousands of people have been killed, including hundreds of civilians. They’ve destroyed granaries and private oil platforms, and had multiple incidents of large civilian tolls.

These reports are coming out across myriad sources, including independent monitors, but are repeatedly denied by Pentagon officials. They deny not only the numbers, but any deaths at all, and in the whole war have copped to just two civilian deaths, last week, from an incident way back in November.

The Pentagon has been remarkably successful in forwarding the myth of “restraint” in their bombings of Syrian cities among major US outlets, and have even gotten to the point where they’re presenting themselves as restrained to a fault, and trying to blame the failing war effort on the lack of bigger civilian death tolls.

It’s a convenient excuse, and ignores the reality of the situation, which is that the US has killed a large number of civilians in Syria irrespective of how badly the war is going.

Claims that the US didn’t bomb what it thinks is ISIS headquarters in Raqqa for fear of civilian deaths and backlast don’t add up, as they cheerfully blew up significant portions of the regional food supply and killed civilians simply on the mistaken assumption that a granary was an ISIS base.

The big danger is that the Pentagon, simultaneously successful in covering up the already sizable death toll and advancing an expectation for more deaths will enable them to be even more reckless with strikes in the future, knowing they can either sell the increased toll as normalizing restraint or just cover it up like they have in the past.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of