WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – The U.S. defense department has withdrawn a part of an official report to Congress after claiming responsibility for killing 21 civilians in Iraq and Syria, saying they were killed by ‘American allies’.
The Pentagon admitted its mistake after a review of its findings, and the report is no longer available on its website.
“This was an oversight in preparing data for the report,” Pentagon spokesperson Mike Howard told The Intercept. “We regret the mistake.”
The findings in question were a part of the Pentagon’s annual report for 2020 on civilian casualties and injuries from U.S. actions, which was released on 28 May. Reporting to Congress on civilian harm globally has been a legal requirement for the defense department since 2018.
The 2020 report said that the U.S. had killed 23 civilians worldwide throughout the year. It also takes responsibility for the death of 50 civilians in 11 air strikes conducted from January 2017 to February 2018 in Iraq and Syria.
“Although military operations to defeat ISIS (Daesh) are a Coalition effort, coordinated between many nations, this report only lists civilian casualties attributed to the use of U.S.-operated weapons,” the report said.
However, an investigation by Airwars and The Intercept found that nine of those strikes were not carried out by the U.S., but were conducted by allies - including Australia, France, and the United Kingdom.
Following the release of the 2020 report on civilian casualties to Congress, a number of senior Democrats in the House and Senate slammed the findings, saying that it underestimated the number of civilians killed.
They also criticized the American military’s failure to adequately compensate the families of victims who were killed as a result of U.S. actions.
“Ending the forever wars starts with recognizing the humanity of the people who these wars have harmed. The Pentagon is always coming hat in hand begging for billions, yet last year they didn’t spend a penny of this fund Congress established to help fulfill our moral responsibility and build goodwill around the world,” Congressman Ro Khanna said in June, adding that the lack of condolence payments was “unconscionable”.