US won’t report civilian deaths in airstrikes now
Washington, March 7
US President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order according to which American intelligence officials will no longer be required to publicly disclose the number of civilians killed in airstrikes against terrorist targets.
Trump’s order on Wednesday lifts an Obama-era mandate for intelligence professionals to provide an “unclassified summary of the number of strikes” as well as “assessments of combatant and non combatant deaths resulting from those strikes” each year, reports CNN.
The 2016 executive order was brought in by then-President Barack Obama, who was under pressure to be more transparent on drone strikes carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Since the 9/11 Al-Qaida terror attack, drone strikes have been increasingly used against terror and military targets. The White House said the order was not an effort to decrease transparency about casualties resulting from US strikes.
“The US government is fully committed to complying with its obligations under the law of armed conflict, minimising, to the greatest extent possible, civilian causalities, and acknowledging responsibility when they unfortunately occur during military operations,” a National Security Council spokesperson told CNN in a statement.
Instead, the administration argued that the measure was intended to streamline the process by eliminating “superfluous reporting requirements”.
The order applied to the CIA, which has been carrying out drone strikes in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia.
The CIA-operated drone strikes in Pakistan have killed top terrorists like Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in 2016, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud in 2009 and Hakimullah Mehsud, TTP chief, in 2013. Khalid Mehsud, the TTP deputy chief was killed in a US drone strike in 2018 Pakistan’s North Waziristan.