Australian Defence Force to begin releasing Syria, Iraq airstrike targets in fortnightly reports
The Australian Defence Force will start publishing fortnightly reports on the air strikes it carries out in Syria and Iraq, including bombing targets and locations.
Concerns had been raised about a lack of transparency from Australian authorities regarding the nation’s role in the international coalition fighting terrorist group Islamic State.
Defence announced its decision after the US-led coalition released its civilian casualty report on May 1, which found at least 352 people had been killed by coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
Defence said Australian strike aircraft had been involved in two 2014 incidents that resulted in “credible claims” of civilian casualties, but said the claims were not substantiated.
Reports on air strikes will be published from next week and will summarise “the targets and locations in Iraq and Syria struck by Australian aircraft”.
“This 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 said in a statement.
It will allow independent groups to compare claims of civilian casualties against the times and places of Australia’s strikes.
Airwars, a non-government organisation set up to hold nations accountable for civilian deaths from airstrikes, described Australia as one of the least-transparent coalition members.
Defence 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.”