The U.S. military under former President Barack Obama quietly hid “potentially thousands of lethal airstrikes” from the American public that likely killed hundreds of civilians in war-ravaged Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, the Military Times has found.
An investigation by the news outlet reveals:
The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Taliban, and calls into question the accuracy of other Defense Department disclosures documenting everything from costs to casualty counts.
The data in question is maintained by the U.S. Air Force. American allies, military analysts, researchers, the media, and independent watchdog organizations seeking to evaluate the conflict’s taxpayer cost, manpower, and casualties rely on these numbers.
A U.S. Air Force-sponsored database available to the public “quietly excluded” at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan last year alone.
According to the United Nations, of the 8,397 conflict-related civilian casualties that occurred in Afghanistan between January 1 and September 30, 2016, aerial airstrikes caused at least 292 deaths.
Moreover, the Military Times notes that the Pentagon’s public summaries of operations in Iraq and Syria, current as of the end of January, exclude nearly 6,000 strikes dating to 2014 when Obama launched the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).