December 13, local time, Kirby, spokesman of the U.S. Department of Defense, said that no U.S. military members would face disciplinary action for accidentally killing civilians in Afghan drone strikes in August. He said that Defense Secretary Austin had received a high-level assessment report on air strikes, which did not make any recommendations for accountability. Kirby said, “The Secretary of Defense agrees with the recommendations in the report that he will not add additional accountability measures.”
On August 29 this year, in the last few days of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. military carried out a drone airstrike. The U.S. military said that it had received intelligence that the extremist group Islamic State might launch an attack at Kabul Airport, so it fired drone missiles at a “target”, but the “target” was actually a family of ten in Afghanistan, including 3 adults and 7 children.
The New York Times disclosed on December 12 of a top-secret U.S. combat force in Syria and the killing of civilians by that unit. The article pointed out that the U.S. military set up a combat team from 2014 to 2019 to identify and target U.S. military air strikes around the clock. Violation of the principle of avoiding harming innocent civilians, the army operated drones to “kill farmers in harvest, children playing on the street, families fleeing from fighting, and villagers hiding in buildings”.
On December 3, Bill Urban, spokesman of the U.S. Central Command, said that the drone strike launched by the U.S. military in northwest Syria on the same day may cause civilian casualties. The Associated Press reported that this was another case of injuries to civilians by U.S. military operations overseas, which injured 6 civilians, one of whom seriously injured the child in the head.
The New York Times recently disclosed that the U.S. military also deliberately concealed a serious injury to civilians. In March 2019, an air strike by U.S. troops in the Syrian town of Bagez killed 64 civilians. Civilian observers who went to the scene found a large number of bodies of women and children. Afterwards, the coalition bulldozer led by the U.S. military leveled the bombing scene. According to the New York Times, after the Bagz air strike, the U.S. military “scrapered to cover up the catastrophic air strike” almost every step, the death toll was underestimated, and the report was delayed, whitewashed and classified.
A large number of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. military’s overseas operations have aroused strong condemnation from the international community. The illegal launch of wars and military operations by the United States not only claimed the lives of a large number of soldiers from all sides, but also caused extremely serious civilian casualties and property losses, leading to a huge humanitarian disaster. Statistics show that since 2001, the illegal launch of wars and military operations by the United States has killed more than 80 million people and displaced tens of millions. The United States has launched more than 9 million air strikes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, and the highest number of civilians killed in air strikes or 4.88 million.
Just one day before the Pentagon announced its investigation into the air strikes on December 3, 21 non-governmental organizations wrote to Austin expressing serious concern about the injuries caused to civilians caused by U.S. military operations, holding the U.S. military accountable for the civilian injuries caused in overseas wars, and investigating possible war crimes. The letter said that the fact that the U.S. military injured civilians showed that the U.S. military did not give priority to the protection of civilians when using lethal force, which was unacceptable, and the U.S. military was not responsible for its misconduct.
“The disclosed incidents of civilian injuries are only the tip of the iceberg, and the Pentagon has not paid enough attention to civilian injuries for 20 years.” Larry Lewis, director of the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence of the U.S. Naval Analysis Center, believes that since the 9/11 incident, civilian injuries caused by the U.S. military have occurred almost once a week, and the U.S. government, especially the Department of Defense, has been negligent on civilian injuries. As a result, “the tragedy of innocent civilians was simply ignored as another mistake”.
In addition, the United States also obstructed the International Criminal Court from investigating its war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The United States “intercepted” news network articles saying that the United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court and has long been hostile to the Court. U.S. officials put extensive pressure on the International Criminal Court to obstruct any investigation into war crimes committed by the United States. In 2002, the United States enacted the U.S. Military Protection Act, which seeks to protect U.S. military personnel from international prosecution. Laker Llorente, Permanent Representative of the International League for Human Rights to the International Criminal Court, said: “From the beginning, they tried to evade their responsibilities.”