WASHINGTON -  An ongoing review of air and artillery strikes found another 51 civilians were killed by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, pushing the total toll to at least 786.

In a statement Thursday, the coalition said that in September it completed an analysis of 127 reports of civilian deaths dating back to when international operations to defeat the Islamic State group got underway in late 2014.

Most reports were deemed “non-credible” or duplicative, but 16 had merit, the coalition found.

“To date, based on information available, (the coalition) assesses at least 786 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes since the start” of the campaign, the statement read.

Among the many reports the coalition examined last month was a March 20 strike on an IS building in Tabqa, Syria, that left 10 civilians dead.

And a June 25 strike in Mayadin in eastern Syria killed 12 civilians when an IS-held building was hit.

“Although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties unfortunately occurred,” the statement read.

Observers say the US-led coalition has been taking greater risks with civilian lives since President Donald Trump took office and gave the military greater leeway in how it conducts strikes, but officials insist the rules of engagement are unchanged.

The coalition conducted 27,566 strikes between September 2014 and September 2017.

During this time, 1,266 reports of civilian casualties were made, but the coalition found only 194 of these to be credible. The coalition also noted that more than 95 percent of the territory once held by IS in Iraq and Syria has been liberated.

Aside from probing civilian death reports that came in from coalition pilots and through social media and other channels including IS claims, military investigators also are scrutinizing a backlog of hundreds of allegations reported by the website Airwars.org.

The London-based collective of journalists and researchers has always had civilian death tolls that are wildly divergent from those acknowledged by the coalition, putting the number killed in US-led strikes at 5,637 as of Thursday.

Tillerson: No future for Assad in Syria

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared Thursday that Bashar al-Assad has no future as leader of Syria and will have to leave office as part of a UN-mediated peace process.

Tillerson’s comments to reporters came during a visit to Geneva in which he met UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is trying to convene a new round of peace talks next month. The secretary said US policy has not changed, but his remarks represented tougher language from an administration that had previously said Assad’s fate is not a priority.

“We do not believe there is a future for the Assad regime, the Assad family,” Tillerson said.

“I think I’ve said it on a number of occasions. The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and the only issue is how should that be brought about.”

De Mistura hopes to convene an eighth round of Syrian peace talks between Assad’s regime and an opposition coalition in Geneva from November 28.

These will be focused on drafting a new constitution and holding UN-supervised elections in a country devastated by several overlapping bloody civil conflicts.

Assad’s regime has been saved by Russian and Iranian military intervention and he insists that he will not stand down in the face of what he regards as “terrorist” rebels.

But Western capitals, the opposition and many of Syria’s Arab neighbors hold Assad’s forces responsible for the bulk of the 330,000 people who have died in the conflict.

He has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people and of overseeing the large-scale torture and murder of civilian detainees.

The previous US administration often said that Assad’s days were numbered, but the then president Barack Obama decided not to use force to punish his chemical weapons attacks.

His successor, President Donald Trump, did order one missile strike on a Syran air base in response to a chemical attack.

But US policy has otherwise focused solely on the defeat of the Islamic State militant group, driving it out of its last bastions in eastern Syria’s Euphrates valley.

Tillerson said, however, that he hopes a way to oust Assad will “emerge” as part of De Mistura’s UN-mediated talks.

He argued that the UN Security Council resolution setting up the peace process already contains a procedure to hold elections that Washington does not think Assad can win.

“The only thing that changed is when this administration came into office, we took a view that it is not a prerequisite that Assad go before that process starts, rather the mechanism by which Assad departs will likely emerge from that process,” he said.