Thousands killed in US air wars in ME based on ‘deeply flawed intelligence’

Thousands killed in US air wars in ME based on ‘deeply flawed intelligence’


The New York Times report revealed that the US air wars based on flawed intelligence have killed thousands of civilians. File photo
The New York Times report revealed that the US air wars based on flawed intelligence have killed 1000’s of civilians. File picture

WASHINGTON: Newly obtained Pentagon paperwork present that the US air wars in the Middle East have been marked by “deeply flawed intelligence” and resulted in 1000’s of civilian deaths, together with many youngsters, the New York Times reported Saturday.

It mentioned a trove of confidential paperwork protecting greater than 1,300 studies of civilian casualties undercuts the federal government’s portrayal of a conflict fought with precision bombs.

Pledges of transparency and accountability, it mentioned, had recurrently fallen brief.

“Not a single record provided includes a finding of wrongdoing or disciplinary action,” the paper reported in what it mentioned was the primary of a two-part sequence.

While a number of of the instances talked about by the Times have been beforehand reported, it mentioned its investigation confirmed that the variety of civilian deaths had been “drastically undercounted,” by a minimum of a number of hundred.

– Surveillance flaws –

Among three instances cited was a July 19, 2016 bombing by US particular forces of what had been believed to be three Islamic State group staging areas in northern Syria. Initial studies had been of 85 fighters killed. Instead, the lifeless had been 120 farmers and different villagers.

Another instance was a November 2015 assault in Ramadi, Iraq after a person was seen dragging “an unknown heavy object” into an Islamic State place. The “object,” a evaluate discovered, was a baby, who died in the strike.

Poor or insufficient surveillance footage usually contributed to lethal focusing on failures, the report mentioned.

More lately, the United States needed to retract its declare {that a} car destroyed by a drone on a Kabul road in August had contained bombs. Victims of the strike, it turned out, had been 10 members of a household, together with youngsters.

Many civilian survivors of US assaults, the report says, had been left with disabilities requiring costly remedy, however condolence funds numbered fewer than a dozen.

Asked for remark, Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command, informed the Times that “even with the best technology in the world, mistakes do happen, whether based on incomplete information or misinterpretation of the information available. And we try to learn from those mistakes.

“We work diligently to keep away from such hurt. We examine every credible occasion. And we remorse every lack of harmless life.”

– Unseen from the air –

The US air campaign in the Middle East grew rapidly in the final years of former president Barack Obama’s administration, as public support waned for the seemingly endless ground wars.

Obama said the new approach, often using unmanned aircraft controlled from far away, represented “probably the most exact air marketing campaign in historical past,” able to keep civilian deaths to a minimum.

The new technology made it possible to destroy a part of a house filled with enemy fighters while leaving the rest of the structure standing, the Pentagon said.

But over a five-year period, US forces executed more than 50,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the report said, with much less than the advertised precision.

In compiling its report, the Times said its reporters had “visited greater than 100 casualty websites and interviewed scores of surviving residents and present and former American officers.”

The paper obtained the Pentagon documents through Freedom of Information requests beginning in March 2017 and lawsuits filed against the Defense Department and the Central Command. A new suit seeks records from Afghanistan.

Before launching air strikes, the military must navigate elaborate protocols to estimate and minimize civilian deaths.

But there are several ways available intelligence can mislead, fall short, or at times lead to disastrous errors.

For example, the Times said, video shot from the air does not show people in buildings, under foliage or under tarpaulins or aluminum covers.

And available data can be misinterpreted, as when people running to a fresh bombing site are assumed to be militants, not would-be rescuers.

Sometimes, the Times said, “Men on bikes shifting ‘in formation,’ displaying the ‘signature’ of an imminent assault, had been simply males on bikes.”

Captain Urban, the Central Command spokesman, said air-war planners do their best under exceedingly difficult conditions.

But he added that “in many fight conditions, the place targeteers face credible risk streams and would not have the luxurious of time, the fog of conflict can result in selections that tragically end result in civilian hurt.”

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