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, with support from Research & Advocacy Associate, Julie Snyder, 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 OPERATIONS: IRAQ, SYRIA, AFGHANISTAN, YEMEN

US and Afghan special forces troops have pushed Islamic State militants out of Gurgoray Valley in Dah Bala district. The militants sought to make Dah Bala district, located near the Pakistani border in Nangarhar province, their local capital. As many as 1,750 people were displaced by the fighting, but those who fled are slowly returning to their homes.

Coalition forces conducted 26 strikes in Iraq and Syria between June 11 and 17.

MOST RECENT OIR CIVCAS REPORT (May 31): In the month of April, CJTF-OIR carried over 476 open reports from previous months and received four new reports. The assessment of 159 civilian casualty reports have been completed. Five reports were determined to be credible, resulting in nine unintentional civilian deaths, while 149 were assessed to be non-credible and five to be duplicate. A total of 321 reports are still open. The Coalition conducted a total of 29,358 strikes between August 2014 and end of April 2018. During this period, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 892 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Saudi-led coalition forces captured Hodeidah airport on Wednesday after three days of fighting, and fears of a humanitarian crisis have grown as the fighting moves into residential districts. Residents said coalition aircraft were bombing Houthi positions as the group dug into the city, and coalition officials claim Houthi forces are placing tanks inside residential areas. A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that around 26,000 people have fled the fighting and that “the number is expected to increase as hostilities continue,” though Hodeidah residents have expressed concern about land mines placed along escape routes.

The United States has offered backing to the coalition for the offensive, and American advisers are helping to develop a list of targets meant to be off limits for airstrikes.

CIVIC Statement: Parties to the Conflict in Yemen Should Take Immediate Steps to Prevent Harm to Civilians

TWEET OF THE WEEK

UPCOMING EVENTS

June 26: Stimson Center – Crisis in Yemen: Accountability and Reparations

June 27: US Institute of Peace – Creating a Stable Peace in the Central African Republic

STATISTICS

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

Civilians Killed: 751 – 1,555

Children Killed: 252 – 345

Total Killed: 7,584 – 10,918

Minimum Confirmed Strikes: 4,809

Airwars (Total Iraq and Syria)

Minimum Civilians Killed: 6,321

Coalition Strikes: 29,651

Bombs & Missiles Dropped: 107, 383

CONGRESS

Senate Passes NDAA, Reconciliation to Come

The Senate passed its version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act on Monday, June 18th on a vote of 85-10. The bill includes a $344 million budget to equip its line of MQ-9 reaper drones with the new Advanced Battle Management System, a $120 million increase from the current budget. The ABMS is described as a “system-of-systems” tool that aggregates data from hundreds of sensors to enhance surveillance and ground targeting while reducing reliance on the large, targetable JSTARS surveillance aircraft.

 

What to Watch for: House Defense Budget Bill

The House is expected to vote on the 2019 Department of Defense spending bill this week. Here are some amendments to watch as the legislation proceeds:

 

Purpose: Prevents funds to be used to transfer munitions to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates for missions against the Houthi in Yemen    

Sponsor: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)

Status: Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: Prohibits the expenditure of any funds to transfer F-35 aircraft to Turkey

Sponsors: Reps Sarbanes (D-MD), Bilirakis (R-FL), Cicilline (D-RI), Gabbard (D-HI)

Status: Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: States that no funding in this Act shall be used or otherwise made available by this Act to end DoD technical assistance and other ongoing activities, that may include communicating risks posed to non-combatant civilians by Saudi led coalition’s activity   

Sponsors: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Status: Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: States that none of the funds made available for Operation and Maintenance (Defense-Wide) may be made available to provide operational, intelligence, or refueling support to military units of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates which have been identified by the Department for gross violations of human rights or war crimes

Sponsors: Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)

Status: Late, Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: Prohibits funds made available by this act may be used to carry out any Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreement authorized under section 2342 of title 10, United States Code, with Saudi Arabia

Sponsors: Rep. Tusli Gabbard (D-HI)

Status: Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: Prohibits using funds to provide military support, to included logistical support, intelligence, and refueling to Saudi Arabia     

Sponsors: Rep. Tusli Gabbard (D-HI)

Status: Late, Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: Prohibits the use of funds to carry out Title 10 sections 311, 321, 322, 331, 332, and 385 with Saudi Arabia

Sponsors: Rep. Tusli Gabbard (D-HI)

Status: Late, Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

Purpose: Sunsets the 2001 AUMF 240 days after enactment of this act

Sponsors: Reps Lee, Barbara (D-CA), Jones (R-NC), Amash (R-MI), Schiff (D-CA)

Status: Submitted to House Rules Committee

 

On the Congressional Agenda:

DRONE WARFARE AND TARGETED KILLINGS

Hundreds of Libyan civilians have been killed in airstrikes by domestic and international forces since 2012, according to a new report by New America and Airwars. The report finds that at least 242 civilians were likely killed in more than 2,100 strikes, but not one of the eight belligerents identified has ever conceded a civilian casualty.

While the majority of airstrikes were carried out by local actors, the United States has carried out more than 550 strikes in Yemen since 2011 – more than the number in Somalia, Yemen, or Pakistan, reports The Intercept. US forces conducted 241 strikes in 2011 during Operation Unified Proctor. After several years of limited activity, American air and drone strikes sharply increased in 2016 as the Obama administration designated parts of Libya as an “area of active hostilities” to oust the Islamic State from its stronghold in Sirte. US forces carried out at least 495 strikes between August and December 2016 as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning.

Since President Trump took office in January 2017, US forces have carried out eleven airstrikes in Libya, including three in 2017 and eight in 2018. Yet several of those strikes were not initially disclosed, as AFRICOM no longer proactively announces strikes in Libya, only commenting on them when asked by reporters.

In their report, New America and Airwars found that between eleven and twenty-one civilians have likely been killed in American strikes since 2012, though the United States has not acknowledged any civilian casualties. US Africa Command said that it investigated two civilian casualty incidents in Libya from the Fall of 2016, but found both claims to be not credible.

SECURITY ASSISTANCE AND ARMS SALES

Sexual violence is a primary tool to brutalize and extract “confessions” from detainees at UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen, according to reports by the Associated Press. Widespread torture at the UAE’s secret prisons was first reported by the AP last June. At that time, American officials confirmed that the US has interrogated some detainees at the prisons, but insisted they were not aware of human rights abuses committed by the Emiratis. Since then, reports of UAE involvement in torture have been well-documented by the AP, human rights organizations, and the UN, though the Pentagon has maintained that US forces have not seen evidence of detainee abuse in Yemen.

US Senators launched a new effort to block the transfer of F-35s to Turkey, inserting an amendment to the Senate’s appropriation bill for the State Department and foreign operations that would prevent the sale unless Turkey cancels its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. Though Turkey technically took ownership of the aircraft on Thursday as part of a ceremony held by Lockheed Martin, the US will retain custody of the planes while Turkish pilots are being trained at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Torey McMurdo and Christopher Hocking write in War on the Rocks that the technological evolution of the military – including increasing reliance on drones and special operations forces – means that war personally affects fewer people and that the military operations are often masked from public view, leading to a decrease in healthy skepticism and accountability over the use of American military force.

Image courtesy of .S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright
Related Content
Filter by
Post Page
Blog
Sort by
About the author