The High Civilian Cost of the American Airwar on Terror

With the United States recently withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan after a 20-year-long nation-building exercise failure, a recent study by Airwars provides us with some interesting background on the War on Terror that has pretty much faded into the background, at least according to the mainstream media.

The Airwars study looks at the impact of 20 years of war on the civilian populations of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya.  Data for the study was gleaned from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the NGO Iraq Body Count, the Buruea of Investigative Journalism and Airwars own data.

The war was fought (and is still being fought) on several fronts and has used different tactics:

1.) Full invasions and occupations – Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 and Iraq from 2003 to 2009.

2.) Major bombing campaigns against the Islamic State – Iraq from 2014 to 2021, Syria from 2014 to 2021 and Libya in 2016.

3.) Targeted United States drone and airstrike campaigns against terrorist and militant groups – Somalia from 2007 to 2021, Yemen from 2002 to 2021, Pakistan from 2004 to 2018 and Libya from 2014 to 2019.

Based on official United States military data, the authors of the report concluded that the United States military carried out a minimum of 91,340 airstrikes throughout the 20 years of the "Forever Wars".

Here is a summary of the minimum and maximum civilian body counts for each nation along with the peak year or years) and the minimum and maximum for those years (excluding Afghanistan):

1.) Iraq – between 11,474 and 24,136 total civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2003 – 5,494 to 6,677 civilian deaths

b.) peak year 2017 – 1,423 to 9,967 civilian deaths

2.) Syria – between 5,731 and 15,573 total civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2017 – 3,279 to 9,318 civilian deaths

3.) Afghanistan – between 4,815 and 6,799 civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2008 – 552 civilian deaths

b.) peak year 2019 – 546 civilian deaths

4.) Somalia – between 72 and 333 total civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2019 – 6 to 64 civilian deaths

5.) Yemen – between 156 and 412 total civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2017 – 48 to 147 civilian deaths

6.) Pakistan – between 424 and 969 total civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2009 – 100 to 210 civilian deaths

7.) Libya – between 7 and 86 total civilian deaths

a.) peak year 2016 – 7 to 68 civilian deaths

In total, Airwars' calculations show that between 22,679 and 48,308 civilians lost their lives thanks to America's airstrikes in the War on Terror.  Based on U.S. military data, the authors of the report concluded that the United States carried out a minimum of 91,340 airstrikes throughout the 20 years of the war with a maximum of 18,695 strike sorties in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq alone.

Let's close this posting with this summary video:

There is no doubt that the cost of the War on Terror has been particularly high for civilians in the 7 nations that have been involuntary participants in the 20 year exercise.  Innocent men, women and children have paid a high price because they happened to live in an area that was being targeted by the United States and its allies in the 7 theatres of military operations.

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