Australian military to release regular bombing reports from Iraq and Syria

The Australian military will begin releasing fortnightly reports on its bombing missions in Iraq and Syria as well as claims of civilian casualties.

The Australian Defence Force will begin sending out fortnightly reports of its air strikes and possible civilian casualties in its fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

The push for transparency comes after a review by the United States-led coalition found more than 300 civilians had been killed in its air strikes in the past three years in Iraq and Syria.

The Air Force is contributing six fighter jets, a surveillance aircraft and a refuelling aircraft to the mission in Iraq and Syria against the militants also known as ISIS or Daesh.

Official military figures show Australia's fighter jets have flown 224 missions in the two countries already this year.

In Canberra, the Defence and Strategic Studies Centre's Professor John Blaxland told SBS News the plan for the reports would let Australia become as transparent as other coalition partners.

"Australia's probably playing catch-up in one sense, but, primarily, this is about messaging," he said.

"We're trying to constrain the opportunities for Daesh or ISIS to exploit the damage, the death, the destruction that's evidently taking place to be used against our own forces."

More than 50 countries are involved in the mission to eliminate IS from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

A recent coalition review found it had carried out more than 20,000 air strikes, which had led to at least 352 civilians being killed, since the strikes began in 2014.

That included 80 previously unannounced deaths.

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The review said less than 1 per cent of the air strikes had resulted in credible reports of civilian casualties, which Professor Blaxland said were sometimes unavoidable.

"Once that bomb is released, you're really in a position where you can't do much about it," he said.

"If a target is subject to maybe some children walking into the building, it's (a) tragedy, but that kind of thing does happen, unfortunately."

Australia's own defence forces have been involved in missions that resulted in the deaths of civilians.

Late last year, two fighter jets dropped bombs in a US-led air strike that mistakenly killed at least 15 Syrian soldiers in the country's east.

A coalition investigation blamed it on human error and failures in communication.

The United States military held a press conference from Baghdad on April 26 updating the progress of the coalition mission in Iraq and Syria.

Colonel John Dorrian told reporters then that the coalition, including Australia, was saving more people than it was harming.

"There's never been a coalition that's worked more closely with partners and employed more resources and done more to avoid civilian casualties than is being done now," he said.

"The people that are involved in this are not perfect, nor is the technology."

He also said the need to eliminate IS was the overriding objective and air strikes were critical.

"We must continue to conduct the air strikes. We'll do so very, very carefully, but the strikes must continue," Colonel Dorrian said.

"Whenever there's an unfortunate incident of this nature, it's heartbreaking, and we will dig into it deeply to try to figure out if something ... what could have been done better, if anything."

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