Pentagon Again Dramatically Undercounts Civilians Killed in Iraq, Syria Strikes

It was business as usual at the Pentagon with their most recent statement on civilian casualties in US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, following a trend established during the Obama Administration of dramatically undercounting the number of civilians killed and ignoring the biggest incidents entirely.

The new report, covering October 25 through December 9, claimed only 11 civilians killed overall, in the course of four strikes. They reported the largest single incident was seven civilians killed near Raqqa, Syria, insisting the building they blew up also contained ISIS fighters. Two civilians were said to have been killed in Mosul.

This is demonstrably false based even on other Pentagon statements, with the Pentagon claiming in early January that they’d killed 15 civilians in Iraq and Syria in the month of November, a period wholly contained within this count, but whose deaths have inexplicably now been expunged. At the time, even that report appeared dubiously low.

British watchdog group Airwars reported an estimated 84 civilians killed by US strikes just in Mosul during the same period, reflective of massive US bombardment of the major city during an Iraqi ground invasion. The Pentagon never responded to questions about the Airwars report, and indeed the Pentagon’s own report claimed only a handful of airstrikes dismissed in their own investigations, suggesting they never even looked into the substantial evidence of large civilian death tolls.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.