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Pentagon says 120 civilians killed worldwide by US forces in 2018 – human rights orgs beg to differ

Pentagon says 120 civilians killed worldwide by US forces in 2018 – human rights orgs beg to differ
A report by the Pentagon on civilian deaths caused by the US military says 120 civilians were killed and 65 others injured by US military actions in 2018 – but human rights groups say that figure is far lower than their estimates.

The annual, Congress-mandated, report, released on Thursday, showed a sharp decline from 2017 in which the Pentagon says 793 civilians were killed and a further 206 injured. The 2017 figure has been revised upward by more than 50 percent on previous Pentagon reporting.

The 20-page report on deaths and injuries in 2018 lists each casualty, date, military operation and location of the incidents spread across Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The report claims no civilians were killed last year during US military operations in Libya or Yemen.

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The new document cites the decline in operations against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) as reason for the fall in civilian deaths at the hands of the US military in 2018.

Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, however, claim the actual number of casualties is much higher. A joint report published by Amnesty and Airwars earlier this year says more than 1,600 civilians were killed in 2017 during the US-backed offensive on Raqqa, Syria.

Another report, this time by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said 406 civilians were killed by international forces, including the US military, in the Afghan conflict last year, most of whom died during aerial bombardments.

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The Pentagon report acknowledged discrepancies in casualty levels compared to the UNAMA report, and explained the difference by saying the US bases its figures on “different types of information and uses a different methodology to assess whether civilian casualties have occurred, and whether such casualties occurred as a result of US military actions”.

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