Washington: Thousands of civilians in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, including children, were killed by US airstrikes that were conducted with imprecise targeting and “deeply flawed intelligence,” media reported.
The newspaper has studied 1,311 documents from a hidden Pentagon archive, concluding that the civilian death toll was a lot higher than the 1,417 civilian deaths reported by the US military in Iraq and Syria and the 188 deaths reported in Afghanistan.
Reports of civilian casualties were often dismissed because surveillance footage was too brief, The New York Times said on Saturday. Interviews with surviving residents and current and former US officials revealed that the US military made little effort to identify patterns of failure and there have been no public assessments that included a finding of wrongdoing.
The newspaper said civilian deaths were often the result of “confirmation bias” on the part of the US military, which confused civilians with terrorist fighters or failed to make sure that the targeted buildings had no ordinary people inside.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that a secret US strike cell called Talon Anvil was responsible for civilian casualties in Syria resulting from air strikes. The unit rushed to destroy “enemies” and sidestepped safeguards, circumventing important rules that helped protect civilians. Some members of Talon Anvil even refused to participate in strikes targeting people who appeared to be innocent bystanders. The majority of the strikes were ordered by relatively low-ranking US Army Delta Force commandos in Talon Anvil, and were labeled as defensive strikes in order to limit oversight.