Tag Archives | Civilians

US Relaxing Standards for Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria

By Marc Veraart via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Marc Veraart via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Sarah Lazare writes at Common Dreams:

The Obama administration has admitted that it is relaxing its standards for avoiding civilian deaths when it comes to ongoing air bombardments on Iraq and Syria.

Yahoo News reported Tuesday that Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told the news outlet that a standard imposed last year by President Obama, which requires “near certainty” that civilians will not be harmed in drone strikes, does not apply to the expanding war on Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria.

Journalist Michael Isikoff reports:

The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,” Hayden said in an email. “That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

Hayden added that U.S.

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ProPublica: Obama Administration’s Drone Death Figures Don’t Add Up

Justin Elliott reports on ProPublica:

Last month, a “senior administration official” said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under President Obama is in the “single digits.” But last year “U.S. officials” said drones in Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can’t be true.

A centerpiece of President Obama’s national security strategy, drones strikes in Pakistan are credited by the administration with crippling Al Qaeda but criticized by human rights groups and others for being conducted in secret and killing civilians. The underlying facts are often in dispute and claims about how many people died and who they were vary widely.

So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration’s own claims been consistent?

We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims.… Read the rest

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‘Covert’ U.S. Drone Operation in Yemen Mapped Out on Twitter

YemenThese “covert” operations are seemingly becoming more difficult to keep “covert” … Reports Chris Woods and Jack Serle of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

Though the hour was late, Yemen’s social media was still very much awake.

A US drone’s missiles had just slammed into a convoy of vehicles in a remote part of Yemen, killing three alleged militants.

The attack—like all other US drone strikes outside warzones—was supposed to be clandestine. Yet within minutes Sanaa-based lawyer Haykal Bafana was reporting the strike in almost-realtime. Just after 1 a.m. on May 17 he posted the following on Twitter:

NOW | Missile strike on car in Wadi Hadhramaut. Near city of Shibam. Suspected US drone attack.

As Bafana later explained to the Bureau, his relatives live in Shibam, a town of 30,000. ‘When the drone struck, the town—which was then experiencing a power cut—had completely lit up. My relatives got straight on the phone to tell me about the attack.’

‘No attacks so far’

The day prior to the strike Bafana had already tweeted that drones were behaving suspiciously in the area.… Read the rest

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63% Of People Killed In Iraq War Were Civilians

Inbound Choppers in Afghanistan 2008Xinhua reports:

U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been causing huge civilian casualties with 63 percent of some 109,000 people killed in the Iraq war being civilians, according to a report on the U.S. human rights record released on Sunday.

The figures were quoted from a WikiLeaks trove by the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010, which was released by the Information Office of China’s State Council in response to the country reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 issued by the U.S. Department of State.

Figures from the WikiLeaks website also revealed up to 285,000 war casualties in Iraq from March 2003 through the end of 2009, according to the report.

“The U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and other regions have also brought tremendous casualties to local people,” said the report.

The report cited the notorious case on a “kill team” formed by five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S.

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