Published: Sun, June 03, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

United States military killed nearly 500 civilians in 2017 - Pentagon report

United States military killed nearly 500 civilians in 2017 - Pentagon report

At the time, the White House said such operations killed 64 civilians between 2009 and 2015, a figure that was contested by nongovernmental organizations that track USA drone strikes.

There are still "450 reports of civilian casualties", however, that "remained to be assessed", indicating the Pentagon itself could increase the toll.

As many as eight civilians were killed in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakah in an airstrike carried out by the US-led worldwide coalition, local media reported citing a local source. In February, UK-based monitor Airwars said that up to 9,444 civilians had been killed by the coalition.

"Despite the best efforts of US forces, civilian casualties are a tragic but at times unavoidable effect of combat operations", the report said. The number of strikes in Syria and Iraq climbed to 39,577 from 30,743 in the same period, according to the Air Forces Central Command.

The casualty figures include those killed by airstrikes, and take in operations in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.

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But the deaths raised questions about growing American military involvement in Somalia after President Trump approved expanded operations, often in support of Somali forces, against the Shabab, an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda.

The Pentagon said about 499 civilians were killed and about 169 civilians injured, without providing a breakdown of deaths and injuries per country or further details about the victims.

A 2016 executive order signed by ex-President Barack Obama, and later enshrined by Congress, mandated that the Defense Department give an annual accounting of the number of civilians killed in USA counterterrorism strikes around the world. It added that "these differences result from a variety of factors", including the use of "different types of information and different methodologies to assess whether civilian casualties have occurred", according to CNN.

All sides claim they do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

"We want to be as transparent as possible and show the rigorous process United States forces take to protect civilians", the newspaper quoted U.S. military spokeswoman Major Audricia Harris as saying.

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