US Military Killed 132 Civilians Globally In 2019: Pentagon
(May 6, 2020) — One hundred thirty-two civilians were killed last year in US global military operations, the army said Wednesday, a number far lower than those published by NGOs.
The Department of Defense “assesses that there were approximately 132 civilians killed and approximately 91 civilians injured during 2019 as a result of US military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia,” the Pentagon said in an annual report mandated by the US Congress.
The report added that the DoD “did not identify any civilian casualties resulting from US military operations in Yemen and Libya” last year.
The most civilian victims were in Afghanistan, with 108 deaths and 75 injured, the Pentagon said.
In Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon took responsibility in the death of 22 civilians and the injury of another 13.
Only two civilians were killed and three injured in Somalia, according to the military.
Multiple NGOs regularly publish far higher death tolls of American strikes in war zones.
The NGO Airwars, which tracks civilian victims of aerial bombardments around the world, estimated there were between 465 and 1,113 civilians killed in Syria alone by the US-backed coalition last year.
“The Department of Defense’s submission of this year’s report marks some progress in terms of transparency of US military operations,” said Daphne Eviatar of the US chapter of Amnesty International.
“The content of the report, however, suggests that the Pentagon is still undercounting civilian casualties,” she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also criticized the report. ACLU director Hina Shamsi echoed that US President Donald Trump’s administration is “undercounting” the number of civilians killed or injured overseas.
“Compared to credible independent media accounts and rights groups’ investigations, it is clear that the Pentagon’s investigations are still woefully inadequate,” she said in a statement.
Defense Department Undercounts Civilian Casualties in New Report
(March 6, 2020) — Responding to the Pentagon’s report on US civilian casualties to Congress, Daphne Eviatar, the director of the Security with Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA stated:
“The Department of Defense’s submission of this year’s report marks some progress in terms of transparency of US military operations. The content of the report, however, suggests that the Pentagon is still undercounting civilian casualties. It still fails to acknowledge hundreds of civilian casualties that Amnesty International’s researchers investigated on the ground in Raqqa, Syria, and assessed from the US-led military operation in 2017.
“The Defense Department appears to have dismissed out of hand many of the civilian deaths and injuries we have documented in the past two years in Somalia, simply assessing them as “not credible” despite our extensive testimonial evidence and expert analysis of images and video from strike sites, satellite imagery, and weapons identification.
“We believe at least some of that disparity is due to the Defense Department failure to conduct its own interviews with witnesses and survivors, and failure to visit the locations of the strikes in places where US forces are present and have access to strike locations, as is the case in Raqqa and parts of Iraq.
“If the US is going to engage in lethal operations abroad, then it must develop a reliable means for investigating and reporting on who it has killed and injured in the process. The difficult work of credibly investigating the aftermath of operations is the responsibility of the governments who engage in lethal actions. It cannot be left to nongovernmental organizations like Amnesty International, which already has provided a vast amount of information on which the Defense Department has so far failed to act.
“These reports can be a crucial accountability mechanism for thousands of families around the world waiting for justice, and a tool for transparency for everyone concerned about what is being carried out by the United States military in its operations every year.
“But for these reports to meaningfully contribute to the accountability process, they must contain concrete information based on thorough investigations, and must lead to reparations for the families of the victims. So far, that’s not happening.”
US military shows appalling disregard for civilians killed in Somalia air strike (September 30, 2019)
War in Raqqa: Rhetoric versus Reality (Report, April 25, 2019)
The Hidden US War in Somalia (report, March 19, 2019)
Syria: Raqqa in ruins and civilians devastated after US-led ‘war of annihilation’ (report, June 4, 2018)
At any cost: the civilian catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq (report, July 10, 2017)