Civilian casualties may be the worst cost of war, but it is an unfortunate reality that has become increasingly more prevalent in modern warfare. Whenever I hear of a new airstrike or raid conducted in a foreign country, I automatically think how much collateral damage was caused. The fact civilian casualties has to be disguised by a softer term reveals how much all governments want to avoid the collateral damage discussion. This is a tragedy of war that is extremely upsetting and there are no signs of it slowing down, considering the amount of ghost warfare that is taking place around the world with the development of advanced drone strikes.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the US-led coalition targeting the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria, has supposedly killed 380 civilians over the past 18 months; however, the US military has only admitted to killing 21 civilians over that same time period; an enormous difference from the number reported by SOHR. In fact, Chris Davis, the director of the airstrike monitoring application Airwars, claims the civilian casualty number could be even higher, possibly reaching as many as 519 civilians killed in just Syria alone. So, what accounts for the drastic difference between the US military and the two independent organization’s numbers?
The simple fact is the US military does not want the people to know the real number of civilian casualties because that would make the coalition against ISIS look incredibly bad. Think of the harsh criticism the coalition, especially the US, would receive if they admitted the real number of civilian casualties; the most powerful country in the world would have a lot more to worry about than just ISIS. Being scorned for the amount of collateral damage taking place could potentially result in a violation of international law, possibly constituting war crimes. The US-led coalition already has enough to worry about, so it appears they push this issue to the side, hoping this will be forgotten. Taking out ISIS seems to be more important to them than taking the proper measures to ensure civilian safety when operations are taking place. In my opinion, this is a military strategy failure, leaving hundreds of innocent people dead since the coalition could not do their due diligence. One thing is for sure: although the exact number may not be known, the number of civilian casualties the US is reporting is not the true number. In a few short words, the coalition should be ashamed of themselves.
–Contributed by R.A.