February 3, 2021
By Daniel R. Mahanty
On Sept. 27, 2018, the U.S.-led coalition, Operation Inherent Resolve, released a statement listing 50 confirmed incidents of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. First on the list, an incident in Iraq described in 23 words: “August 13, 2016, near Qayyarah, Iraq, via media report. During a strike on ISIS headquarters and fighting positions six civilians were unintentionally killed.” Thanks to the work of journalists such as Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, along with the civilian casualties monitoring organization Airwars, we know that the six killed included Ali Khalaf al Wardi, his 5-year-old son and two daughters, ages 18 and 14.
The surviving family members have never been contacted by the U.S. military and, in spite of an annual $5 million appropriation from Congress, have not been offered any form of compensation for their loss. The Biden administration has committed to improving transparency around U.S. civilian casualties. It also should work with Congress to improve the government’s record of doing something about them.