The US Department of Defense has owned up to killing 132 civilians and injuring 91 others during its military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia last year.
In its annual report published earlier today, the Pentagon did not identify any civilian casualties resulting from US military operations in Yemen or Libya. The report is a requirement of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
"Over the past 19 years, we, alongside our allies and partners, have fought to protect our homeland, liberate millions of people from tyranny and safeguard civilians from terrorism," said James Anderson, who is performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for policy.
"While our forces have taken unprecedented steps to prevent civilian suffering in these conflicts, we recognize that US military operations, at times, inadvertently injure and kill innocent civilians. It is a sobering fact that we take very seriously," he said.
The report emphasizes that US forces take extraordinary efforts to reduce the harmful impact of military operations on civilians. From planning to operations, the military routinely evaluates targets to minimize the potential for civilian casualties.
All reports of civilian casualties, including reports provided by individuals who were present during the operation, including military personnel and local civilians, non-governmental sources, the news media and social media, are taken into account.
In Afghanistan, the deadliest three-month period in the entire decade was between July-September 2019 with 1,174 civilians were killed and 3,139 were wounded. Most casualties were however caused by the Taliban, the UN said in a report.
A US drone strike intended to hit an Islamic State (IS) hideout in Afghanistan in September killed at least 30 pine nut farm workers and left 40 others injured. Although Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry confirmed the accidental drone attacks, but did not share details of civilian casualties.
London-based Airwars monitoring group puts the figure of civilian casualties by US-led forces in the first six months of 2019 in Syria between 416 and 1,030. An Airwars tally for Somalia for the year stands at 15, though some of them haven’t been confirmed by the US so far.