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Airwars: Tracking civilian deaths

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Airwars needs your help to help track an unprecedented rise in reported civilian casualties in both Iraq and Syria.

Did you know that Airwars refuses to accept funding from militaries, or from governments involved in the fighting in Iraq, Syria or Libya? Or that despite our growing international reputation, Airwars is presently funded for less than the price of a couple of Hellfire missiles each year?

Our amazing team of staff and volunteers based in the Middle East, Europe and the United States has already tracked, archived and significantly analyzed more than 3,500 separate reported civilian casualty incidents in Syria and Iraq since 2014, when foreign powers first launched airstrikes against so-called Islamic State and others.

We also advocate on behalf of affected civilians to increase military transparency and accountability. And we engage with international and local media; with civic society; and with politicians and governments, to bring down the number of civilians being harmed on the battlefield.

Now for the first time, we must ask for your help to continue our work. In recent months we’ve seen a sustained, 400% rise in civilian fatality allegations against the US-led Coalition. At the same time, heavy casualties from Russian airstrikes in Syria are being reported weekly. Our monitoring has never been in greater demand - even as our small team struggles to keep up.

Please help us raise $50,000 to accomplish the following:

* We need help tracking the huge rise in reported civilian casualties from Coalition airstrikes, as the Mosul and Raqqa campaigns reach their climax. Our team is buckling under a 400% increase in workload with no new resources. With $15,000 we can bring in additional Iraq and Syria researchers to monitor the toll.

* With just $15,000 we can hire specialist Syrian researchers to fully assess a backlog of more than 900 alleged Russian civilian casualty events.

* An extra $10,000 will boost our inhouse investigations team - which already broke the news of Coalition allies hiding details of the civilians they kill ; and of America’s use of depleted uranium in Syria.

* Increasingly our time is spent advocating with militaries and governments on behalf of affected civilians. $10,000 of new funding will allow us to boost our critical advocacy work.

"Just a few dollars, pounds or euros will make a major difference to our work," says Airwars Director Chris Woods. "Our small team is working flat out to track 16 foreign powers presently bombing in Iraq and Syria - while trying to hold them to account for the civilians they harm. Now, with the death toll sharply rising, we need the public's help."

Read this recent Washington Post report on  how we work - and why it matters

Dozens of civilians are buried after being killed in a US airstrike on Mosul, March 2017

Why Airwars Matters

At Airwars, we believe that affected civilians at a very minimum deserve to know who is bombing them. That is why we have long been advocating for greater airstrike transparency and accountability - and have achieved results. For instance, Australia - which was heavily criticized for its lack of transparency - recently began releasing strike reports for the first time. Even so, no non-US Coalition member has admitted to a single civilian casualty in almost three years of war and 4,000 airstrikes between them - an impossible contention. There is still much work to be done.

Yet at a crucial moment in our research and advocacy work, donations and funding have not kept pace, and some of our activities are now at risk. In March this year, we were forced to temporarily pause the full vetting of Russian strikes in order to keep up with the pace of Coalition attacks. Still, we have done our best to track Moscow’s campaign — which is now killing hundreds once again.

Recent devastation in Raqqa, Syria following air and artillery strikes on the ISIL-occupied city

We therefore urgently need your help to keep up and extend our crucial research work. Airwars is a not-for-profit and independent monitoring project, which relies on very limited resources to pay its dedicated researchers. All this work is being done on a yearly budget of less than $200,000. Airwars staff have always worked with few resources; part time staff put in full-time hours, and full-time staff seem to work around the clock. Many, like our geolocators, offer their indispensable assistance free of charge.

Your donation will allow us to continue documenting the deaths of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians - and seeking answers on their behalf.

Main photo: Scenes of destruction after heavy shelling and air strikes on Old Mosul in summer 2017 (via Iraqi Spring Media Center)


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