President Barack Obama’s administration estimated Friday that between 64 and 116 civilians have died during the years 2009-2015 from U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.
They all have been killed by drone and other US strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya since Barack Obama took office in 2009, a figure that has been slammed by watchdog groups as an underestimation, which suggests that the real figure could be as high as 1,100.
Published by the director of national intelligence on Friday, the report said that between January 20, 2009, and December 31, 2015, the United States carried out 473 strikes, which killed up to 2,581 “combatants” and anywhere from 64 to 116 civilians.
Along with releasing the previously secret numbers, the president issued an executive order to make the protection of civilians a priority in carrying out drone strikes and to offer condolences and compensation to injured civilians or the family members of slain civilians.
Watchdog and rights groups have long claimed that the US administration does not know how many civilians it has killed and does not do enough to prevent civilian casualties when carrying out counterterrorism operations.
“The U.S. Government shall maintain and promote best practices that reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties, take appropriate steps when such casualties occur, and draw lessons from our operations to further enhance the protection of civilians,” the executive order reads.