British Drone Strikes in Afghanistan Imperil Civilians

Four Civilians Confirmed Killed in Campaign, But How Many Unreported?

A new round of statistics released by the British Defense Ministry is showing that the nation is, much like the US, increasingly relying on drone strikes in its overseas wars, with more than 280 missiles fired at “suspects” since 2008, with the number increasing every year.

The Defense Ministry’s stats claim that “only four Afghan civilians” have been killed in the campaign, but the reality is the British military, again like its US counterparts, have no real clue who most of the people they kill are.

Human Rights Watch was the first to call the British government on this claim, noting that they have no system in place to check for civilian casualties, and that the system relies on the assumption that if British drones kill an innocent man, someone will show up and complain in person at the base.

Even if they do, there is no mechanism for the military to investigate these claims, so their official “only four civilians” claim rests entirely on the assumption that not only was every civilian casualty reported, but that whoever was at the gate of those bases actually brought the deaths to the attention of higher ups.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of