Rights group: US downplays civilian drone fatalities

Al Jazeera 

The White House has said that up to 116 civilians 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 undercount, 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 US carried out 473 strikes, which killed up to 2,581 "combatants" and anywhere from 64 to 116 civilians. The civilian casualties disclosed in the report were from nations not recognised as "battlefields," and did not reflect US air attacks in "areas of active hostilities" such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. 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. Reprieve, an international human rights organisation, said the US government's previous statements about the drone programme have proven to be false by its own internal documents.