The drone strikes selected by the US military since 2014 in its wars against jihadists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have been poorly prepared and poorly carried out, killing thousands of civilians, according to a new survey by the New York Times.
Based on 1,300 Pentagon reports of civilian casualties, the investigation challenges the image of a “pure” war with “precision strikes,” as the military calls them. The NYT gained access to these documents citing the Transparency in Public Administration (FOIA) Act.
“The air war was marked by incomplete information, hasty and inaccurate missile strikes and the death of thousands of civilians, including many children,” the paper concluded. “Not a single report speaks of error or disciplinary sanctions,” he added.
What the documents prove
The documents show that civilian casualties were often due to “sloping confirmation”, the tendency to draw conclusions based on what they considered possible. People running to a bombed-out spot were considered Islamic State fighters, not rescuers. Ordinary bicyclists were thought to be moving “in formation” and it was concluded that an attack was imminent.
The promises of transparency made by Barack Obama, the first American president to prefer these drone strikes so as not to endanger the lives of American soldiers, were replaced by “opacity and impunity,” the newspaper added.
Many of the cases reported in the report were already known, but based on this research, the Pentagon is “degrading” the number of dead civilians. Since launching operations in Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, the international coalition has acknowledged in a report published in August that “at least 1,417 civilians were killed by mistake” in raids against the Islamic State.
Centcom spokesman Bill Erban noted that “even with the best technology in the world, mistakes are made, either because of misinformation or because of misinterpretation of available information.”
“We are doing everything we can to avoid it. We investigate all reliable cases. “And we mourn the loss of innocent lives.”