US-led air strike A US-led air strike in October in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State. Chris Woods, of Airwars, said: ‘You can’t have an air war of this intensity without civilians getting killed or injured.’ Photograph: Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

New research reveals the scale of civilian casualties due to US-led air strikes on Iraq and Syria

The bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed at least 459 civilians, including 100 children, in 52 air strikes, according to a new report by Airwars, a project by a group of independent journalists.

Commenting on the supposed precision of air strikes against Isis, the Airwars project leader Chris Woods has told the Guardian that this “hasn’t been borne out by facts on the ground”.

This is one of the first reports examining the number of civilian casualties which have resulted from the savage bombing campaign against Isis militants. The lack of official interest in and support for investigating these casualties means that their number may actually be far higher. The violence on the ground also greatly impedes the verification of casualties. 

It took years before the full scale of mass murder in the Second Iraq War came to light. A recent study by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War has established that around a million people have died as a result of that war.

The UK is the second-most active participant in the bombing campaign against Isis. The British government’s claims about its commitment to avoiding civilian casualties are negated by facts.

Chris Woods from Airwars has stated that bombing Isis fighters in their strongholds means that the focus is on bombing cities. 40% of civilian casualty reports came from the city of Mosul in Iraq. “You can’t have an air war of this intensity without civilians getting killed or injured,” said Woods.

Western intervention in Iraq and Syria is adding fuel on the fire of a savage war. As the experience of more than a decade of terroristic “war on terror” shows us, Western intervention contributes to a vicious cycle of brutalising violence. It increases suffering and is a major cause of bitterness against the West. 

This underscores the need to oppose resolutely the proposed full-scale UK military intervention in Syria, which will lead to more of the same: more misery, more hatred, more death and more destruction. Humanity can be more creative than that.

Daniel Jakopovich

Daniel Jakopovich is a writer, abolitionist vegan and a peace campaigner. He was the founder and editor of the Novi Plamen journal for politics and culture (on the territory of former Yugoslavia), and a guest lecturer in Politics, Political Economy and Sociology at the University of Cambridge and at several other universities.

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