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Pentagon downplayed civilian death toll in Afghanistan airstrikes

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KABUL: A US media report has revealed that US airstrikes conducted with imprecise targeting and “deeply flawed intelligence killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

The New York Times reported that the civilian death toll was a lot higher than the 188 deaths reported in Afghanistan and the 1,417 civilian deaths reported by the US military in Iraq and Syria. The newspaper made the revelation after studying 1,311 documents from a hidden Pentagon archive.

Reports of civilian casualties were often dismissed because surveillance footage was too brief, NYT report said. According to the report, interviews with surviving residents and current and former US officials revealed that the US military made little effort to identify patterns of failure and there have been no public assessments that included a finding of wrongdoing.

The report further said that civilian deaths were often the result of “confirmation bias” on the part of the US military, which confused civilians with terrorist fighters or failed to make sure that the targeted buildings had no ordinary people inside.

Earlier this month, the NYT report said that a secret US strike cell called Talon Anvil was responsible for civilian casualties in Syria resulting from airstrikes.

As per the report, the unit rushed to destroy “enemies” and sidestepped safeguards, circumventing important rules that helped protect civilians. Some members of Talon Anvil even refused to participate in strikes targeting people who appeared to be innocent bystanders.

The majority of the strikes were ordered by relatively low-ranking US Army commandos in Talon Anvil, and were labeled as defensive strikes in order to limit oversight, the report added.

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