West Asia

U.S. drone strikes killed thousands of civilians: report

Published : December 20, 2021 13:39 IST

U.S. drones have killed thousands of civilians, according to a report in The New York Times. Photo: Yahya Arhab/EPA/dpa/picture alliance

A strike cell routinely sidestepped safety procedures in Afghanistan and West Asia, The New York Times has found.

Newly obtained Pentagon documents show that U.S. airstrikes have been marked by "deeply flawed intelligence" and resulted in thousands of civilian deaths in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, The New York Times reported on December 18. The documents show that many children were killed in the airstrikes. "Not a single record provided includes a finding of wrongdoing or disciplinary action," the paper reported. According to the New York Times, fewer than a dozen condolence payments were made to victims and their families.

What did the report find?

In one case cited by the paper, U.S. special forces claimed to have killed 85 "Islamic State" fighters in northern Syria. According to investigative reporting carried out by The New York Times, the dead were 120 villagers. According to the report, a U.S. strike cell known as Talon Anvil regularly sidestepped procedures meant to protect civilians in its bombing campaign against the "Islamic State." In August, a New York Times investigation found that a Kabul airstrike had killed 10 members of a family. U.S. officials said it had destroyed a vehicle that contained bombs, a claim that was later retracted.

How did the U.S. air campaign begin?

The U.S. air campaign took shape during the government of President Barack Obama, born out of public opposition to ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where thousands of American soldiers died. The U.S. scaled back its ground presence and replaced it with an increased use of drone strikes. This campaign further intensified under President Donald Trump.

Obama called this the "most precise air campaign in history." According to The New York Times, over a five-year period U.S. forces carried out more than 50,000 strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The AFP news agency contributed to this article.

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