Pentagon Under-Reports Civilian Deaths in Syria and Iraq

Official figure is around 1,300; NGOs estimate US killed over 13,000 civilians

The Pentagon has once again offered a report on the number of civilians killed in US-led military operations in Syria and Iraq since 2014. Once again, the report is a dramatic understatement of the numbers established from independent media accounts.

Officially, now the US admits to killing just over 1,300 civilians in Syria and Iraq in that span, with 111 more cases still under investigation. Airwars, the UK-based NGO, documents the deaths in excess of 13,000 civilians.

It has been a recurring reality that US figures on civilian deaths have been dramatically less than the real figures, mostly because major incidents where the US killed dozens or scores of civilians ended up either ignored, or listed at far lower tolls than they actually were.

This has become dramatically more apparent in the past year, with undercounts now not just several times too low, but a factor of ten below the death toll from the most credible independent source.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.