Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) shares regular updates about the work of our global programs. Our US program, helmed by US Program Director, Daniel R. Mahanty, works with US institutions to protect civilians trapped in conflict around the world. This weekly overview of the US Program is authored by CIVIC consultant, Lyndsey Martin.

US MILITARY AND COALITION OPERATIONS

OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE

The US military has “begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria.” Initial withdrawals have been limited to equipment, and American troops haven’t yet exited Syria.

A report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights calls for compensation of the nearly 3,000 civilians it says have been killed in Coalition strikes in Syria. The SNHR urges the United States to “reassess its decision” on the withdrawal of troops, saying “from a human rights perspective, US forces cannot simply leave after four years of military intervention without contributing to the resolution of cases that are still pending, some of which occurred as a direct result of the military intervention.”

About 25,000 civilians have fled fighting between Coalition-backed forces and the Islamic State in Deir Ezzor over the past six months, including about 8,500 over the past few weeks. An estimated 2,000 people remain in the town of Hajin.

The Pentagon has stopped providing detailed strike releases, including information about targets and the dates of strikes, in its monthly reports of civilian casualties, even as strikes and civilian casualties are at their highest levels since the Raqqa campaign in 2017.

MOST RECENT OIR CIVCAS REPORT (December 30): In the month of November, CJTF-OIR carried over 194 open reports from previous months and received 15 new reports. The assessment of 25 civilian casualty allegation reports has been completed. Out of the 25 completed casualty allegation reports, three reports were determined to be credible and resulted in 15 unintentional civilian deaths.  Two of the reports were determined to be duplicate reports that had previously reported and the remaining 20 reports were assessed to be non-credible. A total of 184 reports are still open. The Coalition conducted a total of 31,406 strikes between August 2014 and end of November 2018. During this period, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 1139 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

AFGHANISTAN

After 11 years and nearly $8 billion spent on building Afghanistan’s air force, “it remains a frustrating work in progress with no end in sight.” American forces carry out five times as many airstrikes as the Afghan air force today, and airstrikes from Afghan aircraft have resulted in civilian casualties at a significantly higher rate.

The NYT recorded 15 civilian deaths in Afghanistan between January 4 and 10.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

STATISTICS

Bureau of Investigative Journalism (Total Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen)

Civilians Killed: 760 – 1,667

Children Killed: 253 – 382

Total Killed: 8,327 – 11,897

Minimum Confirmed Strikes: 6,361

Airwars (Total Iraq and Syria)

Civilians Killed: 7,333 – 11,681

Children Killed: 1,537 – 1,984

Coalition Strikes in Iraq: 14,368

Coalition Strikes in Syria: 16,864

ARMS SALES AND SECURITY ASSISTANCE

In a report to Congress, the Pentagon said that it has found no evidence of detainee abuse by US allies in Yemen, contradicting an AP report last year that found evidence of forced disappearances and torture at secret prisons across southern Yemen run by UAE-backed forces. The Pentagon said that US personnel have interrogated detainees in those prisons but that they “have not observed any indications of detainee abuse by foreign partners.”

Luke Hartig writes in Just Security, “It’s a lawyered-up document designed to obscure the truth and allow the administration to continue its increasingly problematic partnership with the Emiratis with no real oversight or pushback.”

DRONE WARFARE AND TARGETED KILLING

US Africa Command launched four strikes in Somalia over the past week – one on Sunday, two on Monday, and one on Tuesday. It has assessed that no civilians were injured or killed in the strikes.

At least 538 people have been killed in US airstrikes in Somalia since the beginning of 2017 – more than the previous 10 years combined, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

US forces carried out 36 counterterrorism strikes in Yemen in 2018, down from the more than 120 strikes carried out in 2017.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Image courtesy of U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua L. Leonard
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