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US-Led Airstrikes Kill 20 Iraqi Civilians

US Navy F-18E Super Hornets flying over Iraq after conducting an airstrike in Syria. (Pentagon photo)

US Navy F-18E Super Hornets flying over Iraq after conducting an airstrike in Syria. (Pentagon photo)

Twenty civilians were killed in two separate US-led airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in western Iraq on Thursday.

Reuters reports at least 17 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed along with nine civilians when aircraft from an unspecified coalition nation—more than 80 percent of airstrikes are carried out by US warplanes—bombed al-Qaim, a town on the Euphrates River on the Syrian border some 330 km (200 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

A source at a local hospital said 29 IS fighters were wounded in the attack. Television station al-Arabiya al-Hadath claimed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been in the area several hours before the airstrike occurred. The militants targeted by coalition forces were reportedly on their way to reinforce IS fighters on the front line of the group’s war against Iraqi government forces and were resting at a guesthouse in al-Qaim after crossing the border from Syria.

In a separate US-led airstrike in al-Rutba district, 385 km (239 miles) west of Baghdad, a local hospital source told Reuters that 11 civilians were killed, along with six IS fighters.

There have been thousands of coalition airstrikes against IS targets in Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led war in Syria and Iraq aimed at stopping the spread of the Islamist militants, who the United Nations says may be committing genocide.

Mass kidnappings, wholesale slaughter of captives, including many innocent civilians, sexual and other slavery, rape, torture, and other mass atrocities and crimes against humanity are regularly practiced by IS militants, who believe themselves to be harbingers of the ‘apocalypse’ and who are fighting to establish a caliphate across the region ruled under their ultra-fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, as it was practiced by and during the time of the ‘prophet’ Mohammed.

The reports of civilian deaths caused by US-led airstrikes come just two days after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said that coalition airstrikes have killed more than 1,600 people—including at least 62 civilians—since the bombing campaign against IS began five months ago.

The anti-IS campaign is part of the wider US war against terrorism, waged continuously since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. According to conservative estimates, at least 170,000 innocent civilians have died in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria as a result of the US war. In Afghanistan, where civilian casualties have recently soared, the vast majority of innocent deaths have been attributed to Taliban fighters.

Less conservative estimates place the number of dead civilians in Iraq alone at several times that number. Nine years ago, the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet and a joint US-Iraqi study conducted by medical experts at Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Al Mustansiriya University both concluded that more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed as of 2006.

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