Data collected after years of litigation and months of investigation persuaded The New York Times to conclude that civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were much higher than the United States ever acknowledged. Summing up its efforts to probe the US wars in the greater Middle East region, the newspaper wrote: “The promise was a war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs.” But the documents NYT obtained showed “flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, years of civilian deaths — and scant accountability”.
The newspaper got access to the Pentagon documents about the war through Freedom of Information requests beginning in March 2017 and lawsuits filed against the US Defence Department and the Central Command. NYT reporters also visited more than 100 casualty sites and interviewed scores of surviving residents and current and former American officials. The findings, published this week in a two-part report, revealed that the US air war was “deeply flawed” and the number of civilian deaths had been “drastically undercounted”, by at least several hundreds, NYT reported.
The document contradicted the Pentagon’s claim that the drone technology made it possible to destroy a part of a house filled with enemy fighters while leaving the rest of the structure standing. The NYT report revealed that over a five-year period, US forces executed more than 50,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, with much less than the advertised precision.
Noting that before launching airstrikes the military must navigate elaborate protocols to estimate and minimise civilian deaths, the report acknowledged that often available intelligence “can mislead, fall short, or at times lead to disastrous errors”.
Source : DAWN
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