WASHINGTON: 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.