Responding to the United States Department of Defense report to Congress on civilian casualties from US military operations, Daphne Eviatar, the Director of Security With Human Rights at Amnesty International USA said:
“The latest report is a welcome step for accountability for civilian casualties as a result of U.S operations, but many more are required, to both acknowledge the full scale of the damage and for the survivors still struggling with the aftermath.
“The Department of Defense unfortunately still significantly undercounts civilian casualties caused by U.S. led operations, as demonstrated by our recent, detailed reporting on civilian casualties in Somalia and in Syria.”
Amnesty International USA is calling on the Department of Defense to conduct meaningful, thorough, and independent investigations of all credible claims of civilian casualties from U.S. operations, and to provide reparation to the families of the victims.
Last week, Amnesty International released the findings of a comprehensive investigation into civilian casualties caused by the U.S.-led Coalition in Raqqa, Syria. The investigation – which lasted more than 18 months, including more than two months on the ground in Raqqa, more than 200 site visits and more than 400 interviews – documented how U.S., U.K. and French forces killed at least 1,600 civilians during the military campaign from June-October 2017. The U.S.-led Coalition has acknowledged only about 10% of those, and while it is believed that U.S. forces carried out the overwhelming majority of the strikes, the lack of transparency around reporting means it is impossible to know which forces are responsible for which strike. Our investigation suggests that U.S. forces and allies did not do all that they could and should have done to minimize civilian harm, or to investigate the consequences of strikes afterwards.
In March, Amnesty International reported compelling evidence that U.S. air strikes in Somalia killed 14 civilians and injured eight more, in five attacks that may have violated international humanitarian law. The research covered just five of the more than 100 air strikes the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted in Somalia in the previous two years, during which time it claimed it killed and injured zero civilians. It has since admitted responsibility for two civilian deaths, prompted in part by Amnesty’s report.