The Department of Defence (DoD) and the US-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) have reviewed their air strike reporting procedures and the Australian Defence Force will independently publish a fortnightly report on Australian strikes.
From next week, the ADF will independently publish a fortnightly report on Australian strikes, summarising the targets and locations in Iraq and Syria struck by Australian aircraft. The first unclassified report will be available here.
The DoD said the decision comes after weighing the importance of reporting ADF air strikes in Iraq and Syria against the potential propaganda advantages it might provide Daesh and any risk to the safety of ADF personnel on operations.
Defence will also report credible claims of civilian casualties against the ADF on occurrence. This will occur in addition to CJTF-OIR’s monthly civilian casualty report.
The department said, to date, Australian strike aircraft have been involved in a small number of incidents resulting in credible claims of civilian casualties.
10 October 2014 – RAAF air strike on a Daesh checkpoint west of Ramadi. It was reported a truck may have entered the target area after the weapon was released. A review of full motion video assessed that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of this strike.
12 December 2014 – Multi-national air strike on a Daesh weapons factory in Fallujah. Two people were observed in the target area following the strike; however there were no reports of civilian casualties arising from the incident.
From August 2014 – March 2017, the coalition has conducted 20,205 air strikes; of these, 0.24 per cent resulted in credible reports of civilian casualties.
The DoD said it takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously. All ADF personnel operate under strict rules of engagement designed to minimise the dangers to civilians and comply with Australia’s obligations under international law.
Prior to an air strike, Australia’s Air Task Group undertakes meticulous and comprehensive mission planning including national and international approvals. Once a mission is complete, ADF staff thoroughly review every weapon strike to ensure the strikes are consistent with pre-strike approvals.
The ADF, as part of the coalition, is committed to degrading and ultimately defeating the threat posed by Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
The department said the coalition is operating in a dynamic and complex environment and Daesh is a ruthless enemy. Streets and buildings are booby trapped, and Daesh fighters capture civilians, holding them hostage and using them as human shields.