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USA: Pentagon report fails to acknowledge true extent of civilian casualties and deaths abroad

Pentagon claims military operations killed 130 civilians and injured 91 others in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia last year

‘If the US is going to engage in lethal operations, then it must develop a reliable means for investigating and reporting on who it has killed in the process’ - Daphne Eviatar

Responding to the Pentagon’s report on US civilian casualties to Congress, Daphne Eviatar, Director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA, 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. 

“It still fails to acknowledge hundreds of civilian casualties that Amnesty’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.

“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 non-governmental organisations 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.”

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