The Pentagon released a report Thursday detailing what it is says are statistics on the number of civilians killed and injured in US military operations worldwide during 2018.
The 2018 figures show a decrease in the number of civilian casualties caused by US air and artillery strikes from 2017, something that the report says is due in part to the absence of heavy fighting in cities like Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, two former ISIS strongholds that saw intense battles in 2017.
It is the first time that a completely unclassified version of the congressionally mandated report has been released, according to the Pentagon.
The Department of Defense “assesses that there are credible reports of approximately 120 civilians killed and approximately 65 civilians injured during 2018 as a result of US military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.”
The report says that no civilians were killed as part of US counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Libya.
The Pentagon’s figures are significantly lower than those produced by outside monitoring groups which have alleged the US military of causing higher numbers of civilian casualties. Last month, a report by Amnesty International and Airwars charged that the US-led coalition killed more than 1,600 civilians in Raqqa over the course of several months in 2017 during its campaign to eradicate ISIS. The Defense Department assessed that 170 reports of civilian casualties during 2017 were credible, with approximately 793 civilians killed and approximately 206 civilians injured as result of US military actions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Defense Department says the discrepancy between the various assessments is due in part to the US military having access to better information and intelligence about the strikes.
Forty-two civilians were assessed to have been killed in US operations in Iraq and Syria in 2018, however the Pentagon acknowledges that 28 reports of civilian casualties have yet to be assessed.
Approximately 76 civilians were killed and approximately 58 civilians were injured as a result of US military actions in Afghanistan, according to the report.
“Although CIVCAS are a tragic and unavoidable part of war, no force in history is more committed to limiting harm to civilians,” the Pentagon report says, using the military’s acronym for civilian casualties.
The Trump administration had previously received some criticism for an executive order in March that removed a requirement for US intelligence agencies and the military to report data about airstrikes and civilian casualties.
At the time, US officials said that the requirement was redundant due to the existence of the Defense Department report that was released.