US Military Operations Killed 500 Civilians Globally in 2017: Pentagon

"There is credible evidence that approximately 499 civilians were killed and 169 were injured in the course of 2017", - said the Pentagon.

It was the first time the Pentagon released figures for civilian casualties caused by US military ground and air operations around the world in response to a new requirement by Congress for 2018.

That order called for "an annual summary" detailing the "the number of strikes undertaken by the US Government against terrorist targets" outside areas of active hostilities as well as information regarding the number of terrorists and civilians killed in those strikes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the first time the Pentagon is releasing figures for civilian casualties caused by U.S. military ground and air operations around the world under a new requirement passed by Congress.

Across Iraq and Syria, casualty incidents tied to likely Coalition strikes more than tripled compared to the year before.

The deaths reported by the Pentagon occurred in USA counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State militant group, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, through both ground combat operations and air strikes.

The report covers both USA airstrikes as well as ground combat operations.

On November 1, 2017, three civilians were killed and two others wounded in a strike on a road used by IS fighters in the Deir Ezzor region of Syria's Euphrates Valley. In Iraq and Syria, 39,577 bombs were released in 2017, up from 30,743 in 2016.

Delivery of the report was mandated by a 2016 executive order signed by then-President Barack Obama and by the subsequent passage of Section 1057 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. The Pentagon report shrugs off civilian casualties, calling them an unavoidable effect of war.

"This is especially true when fighting in urban areas and against adversaries like [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and al-Qaeda who use civilians as shields and whose tactics include intentionally endangering the lives of innocents".

These figures are disputed, and Airwars, a nonprofit group tracking the war, claims that over 6,000 civilians have been killed since 2014.

It also said it had yet to assess 450 civilian-casualty reports in Iraq and Syria, due to limited resources, indicating the final tally could be higher.

  • Rogelio Becker