• An RAAF FA-18F Super Hornet begins a mission in Iraq. (Australian Defence Force)
A study of the international air campaign against the Islamic State group has concluded Australia is one of the least transparent coalition participants.
15 Dec 2016 - 11:52 AM  UPDATED 15 Dec 2016 - 2:27 PM

A report by a group monitoring coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria has given Australia low marks for transparency and accountability.

The UK-based Airwars organisation says Australia remains one of the least transparent members of the international military coalition, consistently refusing to disclose almost any information about air strikes by RAAF aircraft or acknowledge any incidents that may have produced civilian casualties.

"Canberra has consistently refused to disclose almost any information relating to an estimated 405 air strikes to October 2016 - with one notable exception," Airwars said.

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The exception was an airstrike in September that hit Syrian government forces, with the Australian Defence Force admitting two F/A-18 Hornets released weapons during the attack.

Airwars said Australia had also consistently refused to disclose how many alleged civilian casualty events its aircraft may have been involved in.

There was no detailed investigation of two incidents, one near Ramadi and one near Fallujah, in which civilians entered the target area after weapons were fired.

"The poor quality of the Fallujah investigation did little to instil confidence in Australia's assertion it had killed no civilians in hundreds of air strikes in Iraq and Syria," it said in the report.

Airwars called on the Australian government to follow the practices of other coalition partners and release date and location of all air strikes.

"We also call on the Defence ministry to make public details of all cases - including the locations and dates of alleged events - where it has assessed and investigated possible Australian involvement in civilian casualty incidents in Iraq and Syria," it said.

Airwars collates data on air strikes from official reporting and on civilian casualties from media and other reports.

It said the US-led coalition, comprising aircraft from 13 countries, had conducted about 14,200 strikes in the first two years of the campaign against the Islamic State group. US aircraft conducted the majority of strikes in Syria and Iraq.

Airwars said civilian casualties remained inevitable in a modern air war, even when precision munitions were widely used.

It estimates at least 1500 non-combatants died from coalition air strikes. The coalition acknowledges 152 civilian deaths, though it has recently taken steps to improve monitoring.

Airwars ranked Canada the most transparent of coalition members, followed by the UK, US and France.

Australia was ranked with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Jordan and the Netherlands as countries which released limited information.

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