Strikes killed 499 civilians in 2017, says Pentagon

Pentagon 499 civilians killed in 2017

Strikes killed 499 civilians in 2017, says Pentagon

There were "no credible reports" of civilian casualties as a result of USA military operations in Somalia or Libya in 2017, the report claimed.

The report covers American-led counter terrorism airstrikes and ground operations around the world in 2017.

As President Donald Trump participated in the coast guard's change of command ceremony Friday morning, the Pentagon told Congress it estimated USA military action killed almost 500 civilians previous year.

Across Iraq and Syria, casualty incidents tied to likely Coalition strikes more than tripled compared to the year before. "The U.S. Government shall maintain and promote best practices that reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties, take appropriate steps when such casualties occur, and draw lessons from our operations to further enhance the protection of civilians".

Trump also placed thousands more troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with an indefinite military presence in Syria.

But several Defense Department officials acknowledged privately that the Pentagon's decision not to publicly release a breakdown of numbers by country gives more fuel to critics who say the department is trying to blur the civilian death numbers.

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The number of airstrikes in 2017 in Afghanistan was 4,361 versus 1,337 in 2016 and the number of strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2017 was 39,577 versus 30,743 in 2016, according to Air Forces Central Command.

The report said no casualties were identified as a result of USA operations in Somalia and Libya, but the numbers are subject to change due to ongoing assessment of 450 reports of civilian deaths.

A 2016 executive order signed by ex-President Barack Obama, and later enshrined by Congress, mandated that the Defense Department give an annual accounting of the number of civilians killed in us counterterrorism strikes around the world.

"Civilian casualties are a tragic and at times unavoidable outcome of the use of force in situations of armed conflict or in the exercise of a state's inherent right of self-defense", Obama stated in the order.

From August 2014 to April 2018 the coalition conducted a total of 29,358 strikes and "assesses at least 892 civilians have been unintentionally killed", it said.

Human rights advocates are calling the Pentagon's newly released figures on civilian casualties during President Donald Trump's first year in office a massive under-count that belies the true scale of carnage and reveals an absence of meaningful investigations into reported deaths.

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