Pentagon report on civilian killings

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US military operations killed 130 civilians and injured 91 in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia last year, according to a Pentagon report seen by Reuters, with figures lower than reported by watchdog groups.

During operations in Afghanistan in 2019, 108 civilians were killed, with 22 killed in Iraq and Syria and two civilians killed in Somalia, according to the 20 page report, which tracks air and ground military operations.

The Pentagon assessed no civilians were killed in Libya or Yemen.

The annual report, mandated by Congress, is not yet public but likely to be released soon.

Amnesty International USA said the US was still undercounting civilian casualties.

“Based on places we have done extensive, thorough investigations, the US military is severely undercounting the number of civilians killed and injured by US strikes,” Daphne Eviatar, director of Security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA, said.

 

A tally by Airwars monitoring group shows in the first six months of 2019 in Syria, strikes by the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State caused between 416 and 1 030 civilian casualties.

In Somalia, Airwars data shows as many as 15 allegations of civilian casualties caused by the US are either confirmed or believed fair.

“Although civilian casualties are a tragic and unavoidable part of war, the US military is steadfastly committed to limiting harm to civilians,” the Pentagon report said.

In the report, the US military acknowledges its numbers are different from other groups like non-governmental organisations, saying it could be because of differences in methodology and types of information used.

Last year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking an Obama-era policy requiring US intelligence officials to report civilian deaths in drone strikes outside active war zones.

When he was president Barack Obama put the policy in place in 2016 as part of efforts to be more transparent about drone strikes after he upped their use against Islamist militants.