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U.S. military admits killing 20 more civilians in airstrikes

By
Martin Smith
A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq early, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. File Photo by Matthew Bruch/USAF
A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq early, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. File Photo by Matthew Bruch/USAF | License Photo

TAMPA, Fla., April 22 (UPI) -- The United States military revealed Friday that it has killed 20 civilians and wounded 11 others in recent airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

This more than doubles the number of fatalities previously acknowledged in the military campaign against Islamic State.

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U.S. Central Command said that six of the strikes occurred in Iraq, and three in Syria, all between Sept. 10 and Feb. 2.

"We deeply regret the unintentional loss of life and injuries resulting from those strikes and express our deepest sympathies to the victims' families and those affected," the military's statement said.

The bomb attack that resulted in most unplanned casualties happened Oct. 5 in Atshanah, Iraq, when eight civilians were killed as U.S. forces targeted a location used by Islamic State to launch mortars.

On Dec. 12, five more civilians died during an airstrike at an Islamic State checkpoint in the Iraqi city of Ramadi after being "unexpectedly moved into the target location after weapons already were in flight."

Details of the fatalities come after Col. Steve Warren, a military spokesman in Baghdad, revealed Wednesday that the authority to launch airstrikes that could cause civilian casualties has been delegated to lower levels than when the military campaign began.

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Previously, those strikes had to be approved by the top commander for Central Command, but Warren stated that authority has since been given to Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, or one of his deputies.

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