David Cameron has claimed in a year and three months of British air strikes in Iraq there have been "no reports of civilian casualties".
The Prime Minister, speaking during the debate on extending intervention against Isis, also says the Government has a target of zero civilian casualties from British military action in Syria.
The key word here is 'reports'. The truth is that Isis-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria are far too dangerous for any kind of reporting or observation from independent monitors.
So if - and very probably there have been - civilian casualties we almost certainly just don't know about them. So it is a rather disingenuous of Cameron to suggest otherwise. As we know from recent history 'surgical' strikes are very rarely collateral free.
Available data indicates as many as 369 civilians were killed by the international coalition between January and June of this year. From July to December 2014 – the beginning of strikes – an estimated 118 civilians died.
The data is compiled by the Iraq Body Count project, staffed by volunteers and activists based in the UK and US, and one of the few organisations consistently noting death toll. However, the organisation – which gathers data from Arabic and English media reports as well as NGOs – has been criticised for both under and over counting in the past.
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