The Pentagon has revealed that 120 civilians lost their lives as a result of American military operations in 2018.
In a report released Thursday, the Defense Department said that 42 civilians had been killed in Iraq and Syria, 76 had been killed in Afghanistan, and two had been killed in Somalia. The report said that there had been no “credible” claims of civilian casualties caused by U.S. operations in Libya and Yemen.
“All DoD operations in 2018 were conducted in accordance with law of war requirements, including law of war protections for civilians, such as the fundamental principles of distinction and proportionality and the requirement to take feasible precautions in planning and conducting attacks to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and other persons and objects protected from being made the object of an attack,” said the annual report, which is required by Congress.
Watchdog groups say the Pentagon vastly underestimates the number of civilian deaths its operations cause each year. A report by Amnesty International and Airwars last month claimed that 805 such deaths had occurred in Iraq and Syria alone in 2018.
The Trump administration was criticized in March for scrapping an Obama-era requirement that intelligence officials release an “unclassified summary of the number of strikes” and “assessments of combatant and non combatant deaths resulting from those strikes.” Administration officials said the requirement was redundant because of the annual Defense Department report.
“Although CIVCAS [civilian casualties] are a tragic and unavoidable part of war, no force in history is more committed to limiting harm to civilians,” the DoD report said.