The ongoing effort of the United States to eradicate the Islamic State by aggressively launching airstrikes against targets that include non-combatants is causing significant harm to civilians in Iraq and Syria.
Estimates of civilian deaths from airstrikes range from the hundreds to the tens of thousands. Although the U.S. government says that it has killed 603 civilians in airstrikes since the start of military operations in 2014, the monitoring group Airwars estimates that airstrikes have killed at least 4,500 civilians, including nearly 1,000 children.
Some of the strikes have been horrific. One attack in Mosul last March killed at least 100 civilians and injured countless more. “Dozens of Iraqi civilians, some of them still alive and calling out for help, were buried for days under the rubble of their homes in western Mosul after American-led airstrikes flattened almost an entire city block,” The New York Times reported.
Officials in Washington deny any wrongdoing. They insist that they are taking every precaution to protect civilians. They also argue that they are not intentionally killing civilians, despite the fact that President Trump promised during his presidential campaign to go after civilians. When it comes to terrorists, “you have to take out their families,” Trump said.
Others argue that civilian deaths cannot be avoided. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of coalition forces, said during a press conference last March that…