As the United States ramps up its airstrikes and targeted raids against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, there has been a corresponding increase in reported civilian casualties. Airwars estimates that at least 3,111 civilians have been killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes since the anti-Islamic State air campaign began in August 2014. However, CENTCOM implausibly assess that “at least 229 civilians have been unintentionally killed” in all 19,607 strikes.
On average, it has taken CENTCOM ninety-five days to announce whether a coalition strike resulted in a civilian casualty over the past six months. Meanwhile, on average, it has taken just eleven days for the Pentagon to announce that a strike has resulted in the death of a “key leader” of a terrorist organization over the past year. (We averaged the time elapsed between the alleged incident and the U.S. military announcement of 115 cases of civilian casualties and 19 announcements of killed terrorists, after removing the highest and lowest number of days passed for both to avoid distorting the mean.)