US military operations killed 132 civilians in 2019: Pentagon

Washington DC, May 6 (efe-epa).- The United States in 2019 killed 132 civilians in military operations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, according to a Pentagon report released on Wednesday.

The report added that 91 civilians were injured in the operations, most of them aerial, but also on land.

Most of the deaths – 108 – occurred in Afghanistan in the context of attacks against Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS) and the Taliban. There, 75 civilians were also wounded in the operations.

The US’ efforts in 2019 “focused initially on aggressively targeting the Taliban to drive the group to participate in negotiations to end the Afghan war,” the report said.

“The level of violence increased as the year proceeded, as the Taliban conducted attacks in an attempt to increase its negotiating leverage during peace talks,” it added.

The peace agreement between the US and the Taliban was finally signed in February.

After Afghanistan, Syria was the country with the most civilians killed (21) and wounded (11) by US forces, in the framework of the war against the IS. In the same framework, but in Iraq, one civilian died and two were wounded.

All of these operations occurred between January and March 2019, when the US and its allies gained control of the territory that had been in the hands of IS during its proclaimed caliphate.

In Somalia, two civilians were killed and three wounded during US operations against the Somali jihadist group Al-Shabab and the IS.

The Pentagon detailed that throughout 2019 it carried out 63 airstrikes in Somalia in support of local forces to prevent these groups from taking control of areas not under state control.

Finally, the Pentagon said that in its operations in Libya against the IS and in Yemen against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the IS, there were no civilian casualties.

“All DoD operations in 2019 were conducted in accordance with law of war requirements, including law of war protections for civilians, such as the fundamental principles of distinction and proportionality, and the requirement to take feasible precautions in planning and conducting attacks to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and other persons and objects protected from being made the object of an attack,” the report said.

US government figures of civilian casualties are often criticized by watchdogs as being significantly underreported. Airwars, for example, estimates that US-led military operations in Iraq and Syria in the first half of 2019 alone killed between 416 and 1,030 civilians.

In response to the Pentagon report, Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International US, said: “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.” EFE-EPA


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