US 'killed 22,679 or more civilians' in 'War on Terror' strikes from 2001

US 'killed 22,679 or more civilians' in 'War on Terror' strikes from 2001
3 min read
08 September, 2021
As many as 48,308 civilians have been killed in US-led strikes since 2001, Airwars said in a report released days before the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Airwars focused on deaths caused by US airstrikes [Getty]

The so-called War on Terror has seen as many as 48,308 civilians deaths in the Middle East and elsewhere as a result of US bombing, since the 11 September 2001 attacks, according to monitor Airwars.

The monitor tracked seven theatres of conflict - including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Libya - for a report that comes days before the 20th anniversary of Al-Qaeda's attack on the US, which triggered the War on Terror.

Air Wars said that a minimum of 22,679 civilians in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia were killed in US-led military campaigns since then.

A staggering 97 percent died during the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the Washington-led campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq.

The US recently ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan in August, as the Taliban swept to power, with President Joe Biden vowing an end to the era of "forever wars".

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The US-led occupation of Iraq lasted from 2003 to 2009, although some troops are still based in the country assisting in operations against IS.

Washington had acknowledged its forces have conducted 91,340 strikes since its worldwide anti-terror campaign began in 2001, Airwars said.

A particularly intense period of bombardment occurred with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which saw 18,695 US airstrikes.

It was also the most bloody year for civilian deaths from 9/11 until now, with 5,529 losing their lives in US strikes, the vast majority during the invasion, Airwars said, citing the Iraq Body Count tracker group.

In anti-IS operations between 2015 and 2017, around 9,000 airstrikes took place annually.

This made 2017 the year with the second-highest number of civilian fatalities, with 4,931 "likely killed", mostly in alleged US-led coalition strikes in Syria and Iraq.

Numbers from the Brown University Cost of War programme suggest that up to 370,072 civilians died in "post-9/11 wars".

The wide margin in Airwars' statistics of deaths from US bombing is due to "the many unknowns when it comes to civilian harm in war", the organisation said.

The group said it was also unable to exclude deaths caused by "artillery fire and other heavy munitions" in certain instances.

It was also not clear if US forces were responsible for every specific airstrike in Airwars' figures, such as the war against IS when other coalition partners - including France and the UK - also took part.

CENTCOM was contacted for Airwars' report about civilian deaths and said: "The information you request is not immediately on hand in our office as it spans between multiple operations/campaigns within a span of between 18 and 20 years."