Monitor: Recent US-Led Airstrikes Kill at Least 73 Syrian Civilians

US-led coalition air strikes targeting Islamic State militants have killed at least 73 Syrian civilians during the month of July, with most of these deaths occurring in two strikes in Deir Ezzor province, according to monitor and media organizations.

The UK-based journalistic monitor group Airwars reports the deadliest of the recent US bombings blasted an ice processing plant between the towns of Al-Bagouz Al-Fawqani and Al-Sousse in Deir Ezzor, where many civilians had gathered to collect ice on July 12. Step News Agency reported US-led warplanes launched five successive strikes, killing 35 civilians and wounding 25 others. Smart News reported 28 civilians were killed, along with 26 IS fighters, with scores of civilians including women and children injured. Other local media sources reported as many as 58 civilians died in the attacks.

According to monitor and local media organizations, at least 24 and as many as 30 civilians, including women and children, died when US-led air strikes targeted several Deir Ezzor locations between Al-Sousse and Al-Dahra. Local media including Baladi News reported most of the dead were refugees fleeing from areas still controlled by IS.

Shortly after dawn on July 16, between 10 and 13 civilians, reportedly almost all of them women and children from a single family, died in a US-led bombing in Al-Baghouz. Step News Agency said the number of casualties was expected to rise as many victims were trapped beneath rubble after the attack.

Also on July 16, at least eight and as many as 13 civilians, including a displaced Iraqi couple and their daughter, were reportedly killed when US-led warplanes bombed at least two homes in Al-Sousse. According to Baladi News, jets bombed the home of Abdullah Hamid al-Ali, killing him and four relatives, while eight more civilians died in a neighboring home. Several other civilians were critically wounded in the attack.

Three brothers were also reportedly killed in a July 2 US-led air strike on a road near the town of Tal al-Shayer in southern Hassaka province. Step News Agency reported the men were traveling in a car on the road when it was struck by the bombing. A fourth brother was seriously injured in the strike and had his leg amputated.

The Trump administration has not publicly commented about the sharp spike in civilian deaths in the war against IS since Donald Trump became commander-in-chief. On the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016, Trump vowed to "bomb the shit" out of IS militants and "take out their families," a war crime. Once in office, Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect innocent life, and in May 2017 Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis announced that the US was shifting from a war of attrition to one of "annihilation" in Syria and Iraq.

Airwars estimates a minimum of 6,488 men, women and children have been killed by US-led coalition air and artillery strikes since August 2014, when former US president Barack Obama entered the Syrian civil war to fight IS. In the wider war against Islamist terrorism, which is now in its 17th year with no end in sight, credible estimates of the number of civilians killed range from the hundreds of thousands to over 1.3 million. Since the nuclear war waged against Japan in 1945, the United States has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force in the world, by far.

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist and editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com.

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