WASHINGTON (June 14, 2017) — In response to press reports that the US military has doubled the size of its team investigating reports of civilian casualty in Iraq and Syria, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) Executive Director Federico Borello issued the following statement:

“We welcome the increased resources the US military is adding to the team investigating reports of civilian casualties. But more emphasis should be placed on preventing civilian harm. The civilian death toll from coalition air strikes is growing and no one seems to be able to explain exactly why. In addition to boosting its investigative capacity, the Department of Defense should also immediately commission an independent and thorough assessment of how and why civilians are being harmed in the first place and figure out better ways to fight ISIS while also protecting civilians. And when harm does occur, it should figure out how to make amends to the families of those affected. It’s the right—and smart—thing to do.

“I want to stress that there’s no time to waste. There are reports of up to 160,000 civilians still trapped in Mosul—many of them children—who are at risk from both ISIS barbarity and coalition air strikes right now. In Raqqah, in Syria, a similar number face the impossible choice of fleeing or staying—and either choice could leave them dead or wounded, whether from ISIS retaliation or from a US air strike.

“Investigating reports of civilian harm from coalition activities is a good start, but it’s far better to avoid harming civilians if at all possible in the first place. The US must protect civilians in its operations and show the world it values human life even while fighting those who do not.”



Note to editors: 

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s  mission is to improve protection for civilians caught in conflicts around the world. We call on and advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to adopt and implement policies to prevent civilian harm. When civilians are harmed we advocate for the provision of amends and post-harm assistance. We bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.

For more information, contact Christopher Allbritton at +1 (917) 310-4785 or  chris@civiliansinconflict.org.

Image courtesy of US Army Africa