For more than a decade, there have been drone and aircraft strikes in countries including Yemen and Pakistan and allegations that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of civilians have been killed. For the first time, the U.S. government has admitted that there may be civilian deaths in the campaign against ISIL as well. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.
Drones have long been a valuable tool in the U.S. military arsenal, a way to strike the enemy without putting U.S. forces in harm’s way. But the possibility of civilian casualties has been a constant risk. Now the massive U.S.-led air campaign against ISIL — which includes drones, fighters and bombers — is increasing the possibility of civilian casualties.
The Pentagon said it will investigate these allegations.
U.S. will investigate reports of civilian deaths in drone strikes against ISILFor more than a decade, there have been drone and aircraft strikes in countries including Yemen and Pakistan and allegations that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of civilians have been killed. For the first time, the U.S. government has admitted that there may be civilian deaths in the campaign against ISIL as well. CCTV America's Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.
“CENTCOM, Central Command, is investigating several, what they believe to be credible allegations of possible civilian casualties,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
The U.S.-led coalition has launched more than 1,400 airstrikes since beginning the air campaign last August.
According to the Pentagon, investigators are focusing on five cases involving potential civilian casualties, that they believe are credible enough to investigate.
The Pentagon does not comment on covert drone strikes, but according to the nonprofit New America Foundation, in 2009 the U.S. was accused of killing at least 100 civilians in drone strikes. Since then, with a renewed focus on better targeting, civilians deaths have dropped, along with the total number of drone strikes.
Despite the decline, the use of U.S. airpower — from drones or manned aircraft — will always mean some risk to civilians. In 2012, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue while visiting the White House.
“We are very mindful of trying to mitigate the risk to civilians every time we operate, everywhere we operate. And so when we do believe that we’ve had occasion to cause collateral damage or hurt, kill civilians, we take it seriously and we look into it. It matters to us,” Kirby said.
Morris Davis of Howard University discusses U.S. drone strikes
CCTV America interviewed Morris Davis, a law professor at Howard University and the former chief prosecutor for U.S. military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, about the latest phase in the U.S. airstrike campaign.