U.S. Strikes Killed Nearly 500 Civilians in 2017, Pentagon Says


"We acknowledge differences exist between USA military assessments of the number of civilian casualties and reporting from NGOs", Maj.

Friday was the first time the Pentagon released figures for civilian casualties caused by US military ground and air operations around the world in response to a new requirement by Congress for 2018.

Department of Defence has revealed that close to 500 civilians were killed past year during United States military operations in four countries.

U.S. military actions have killed nearly 500 civilians in 2017, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) said the casualties were sometimes "unavoidable", according to a report released Friday.

Airstrikes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia increased significantly during the Trump administration's first year.

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.

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"This is especially true when fighting in urban areas and against adversaries like ISIS and al-Qaeda who use civilians as shields and whose tactics include intentionally endangering the lives of innocents", it added.

The only comparable figures released by former President Barack Obama came in 2016, when he signed an executive order requiring the government to release figures for civilian casualties caused by USA airstrikes meant to target combatants in non-war zones. So far, the number of civilians injured due to military operations is at 169, but that number could rise as well.

Though Obama's order specified the report would be made public "annually on May 1", the Trump administration missed the deadline, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

According to the report, the civilians were killed in a total of six countries which included Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

These figures are disputed, and Airwars, a nonprofit group tracking the war, claims that over 6,000 civilians have been killed since 2014.

The report said it "acknowledges" the difference in results of the DOD report and others, attributing the difference to "a variety of factors" such as information sources and counting methodologies.