- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2015

U.S. airstrikes in Syria in November likely killed two civilian children, according to a Central Command report released Thursday night.

The airstrikes near Harim City, Syria, on Nov. 5-6, 2014, were targeting Khorasan Group facilities that were being used to manufacture and store improvised explosive devices, the report said. Six buildings were destroyed and two more were damaged.

Despite all precautions being taken, two civilian children who were living “at or near” the targeted buildings were likely killed. There was no indication the children were in the targeted buildings, according to a U.S. Central Command release.

“We regret the unintentional loss of lives,” Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve commander, said. “The coalition continues to take all reasonable measures during the targeting process to mitigate risks to non-combatants and to comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict.”

The report said some photos of the two casualties show two young girls who appeared to have suffered eardrum injuries consistent with being close to a blast.

Two other adult civilians suffered minor injuries in the strikes, the report said.

After the U.S. received reports of civilian casualties, it launched a preliminary investigation in December. When that investigation found those allegations to be initially credible, U.S. Central Command launched a formal investigation in January that concluded in April.

While these are the first U.S.-acknowledged civilian deaths in the air campaign against the Islamic State, local organizations say more than 100 civilians have been killed in the airstrikes. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said earlier this week that 131 civilians, including 42 children and 25 women, have been killed in the coalition air campaign that began in August.

The organization promised “to work harder in order to stop the war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed daily against the Syrian people, and to refer the file of these crimes to international Criminal Court, or establishing a special courts in Syria,” a statement said.

• Jacqueline Klimas can be reached at jklimas@washingtontimes.com.

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