US Central Command says airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have killed at least 64 civilians during the past year, more than doubling the number of civilian deaths since renewed operations began in 2014, reports the Washington Post. On Wednesday, the Department of Defense released an official statement describing the review process and providing a list of deadly airstrikes. The figure of 64 is in addition to the government's previous estimate of 55, bringing the official number of civilians killed since 2014 to 119. Human rights groups say the actual figure is higher.
"Sometimes civilians bear the brunt of military action,” said CentCom spokesman Col. John J. Thomas. "But we do all we can to minimize those occurrences, even at the cost of sometimes missing the chance to strike valid targets in real time." The military undertook its review of the air campaign after rights groups accused the US of a low count over the summer. As pressure built, CentCom re-examined 257 airstrikes and determined that at least 31 resulted in accidental collateral damage, reports the New York Times. (Read more civilian casualties stories.)