Two leading Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Biden on Monday urging him to end drone strikes and other lethal force outside of armed conflict zones. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) penned the letter in the wake of the August 29th drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians.
“As your administration rightfully seeks to end the endless wars of the last two decades and restore American leadership on human rights, it should take immediate steps to end war-based lethal force policies outside of armed conflict; prevent lethal strikes from causing civilian casualties; and, where such casualties do tragically occur, ensure appropriate transparency, accountability, and redress,” the senators wrote.
The letter said that when the US kills civilians, it increases “terrorist recruitment, undermining the central goal of counterterrorism over both the short and long-term.” The senators said it is in “our nation’s interest to reduce the number of civilian casualties we cause and respond to civilian harm wherever it happens through rigorous investigations.”
The letter asks Biden to provide an outline of how the administration is shifting away from using lethal force in areas that aren’t considered active US war zones. Since the Afghanistan withdrawal was completed, Iraq and Syria are the only two countries where the US is technically engaging in armed conflict.
The Biden administration says it is reviewing drone strikes and other counterterrorism policies. Earlier in the year, reports said drone strikes outside of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan were temporarily suspended. But the US launched several airstrikes in Somalia in July and August and expanded special forces operations elsewhere in Africa.