Washington: The US military on Wednesday took responsibility for unintentionally killing 23 civilians in foreign war zones in 2020, a death toll far below figures compiled by NGOs.
According to the Pentagon’s report, the statistics include civilian deaths in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria.
The US Department of Defense “assesses that there were approximately 23 civilians killed and approximately 10 civilians injured during 2020 as a result of US military operations,” reads in part the document, an annual report required by Congress since 2018 — even though parts of it remain secret.
Most of the civilian casualties were in Afghanistan, where the Pentagon said it was responsible for 20 deaths, according to the public section of the report.
One civilian was killed in Somalia in February 2020 and another in Iraq in March. The document released to the public does not specify when or where the 23rd victim was killed.
The document says that although Congress allocated $3 million to the Pentagon in 2020 for financial compensation to the families of civilian victims, no such compensation has been paid.
Non-governmental organizations often announce that the number of civilian deaths in active areas of the U.S. military is much higher.
Airwars, a non-governmental organization that lists civilian victims of air strikes, said their most conservative estimates indicate that 102 civilians were killed in U.S. operations around the world—five times higher than the official Pentagon figure.
Airwars said that UNAMA statistics show that 89 people were killed and 31 were injured in the operations of the coalition led by the United States.
The NGO said that in Somalia, where only one civilian was confirmed dead by the Pentagon, air combat and other NGOs estimated the death toll at seven, while in Syria and Iraq, local sources said six people died.
“It is clear that the Department of Defense’s investigation and recognition of civilian injuries is still seriously insufficient,” said Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Shamsey, head of the National Security Program of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “It is surprising that in 2020, despite the funding provided by Congress, the Department of Defense did not provide or pay any compensation to affected civilians and families.”