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US drones killed tens of thousands of civilians under ‘war on terror’ pretext: Iran

People survey the damage to a vehicle after a US drone strike. The US military admitted to a “tragic mistake” in the August 29, 2021 drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children. (Photo by the New York Times)

Iran’s top human rights official has said that US drone strikes have only caused death and destruction, killing tens of thousands of civilians and destroying their homes over the last two decades under the pretext of countering terrorism.

Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, tweeted late on Sunday that “under the pretext of countering terrorism, the US has conducted at least 14,000 drone strikes in seven countries over the last two decades.”

“The result? 48,000 civilians killed, tens of thousands of homes shattered into pieces,” he added.

The figures Gharibabadi tweeted were taken from a letter by dozens of US Congress members sent to US President Joe Biden on Thursday asking for the review and overhaul of existing counterterrorism policy.

“Without systematic reforms centered on human rights and international law, the status quo will continue to undermine counterterrorism objectives, produce significant human and strategic costs and erode the rule of law and the United States’ image abroad,” said the letter, signed by 11 senators and 39 members of the House of Representatives.

The letter, citing third-party sources, revealed that as 48,000 civilians in seven countries were killed by the US drone strikes in the course of the past two decades, adding that as many as 2,200 civilians, including 450 children, lost their lives during attacks by at least 14,000 US drone airstrikes since 2002.

“In far too many cases, rather than achieving the policy goal of eliminating hostile combatants to preserve US national security, lethal US strikes have instead killed thousands of civilians, including children,” the American lawmakers further said.

The signatories also acknowledged that “alarmingly”, the actual numbers are likely to be significantly higher given the difficulty of comprehensive reporting and Washington’s consistent underreporting of these numbers and reported refusal to probe death reports.

“We strongly urge your administration to review and overhaul US counterterrorism policy to center human rights and the protection of civilians, align with US and international law, prioritize non-lethal tools to address conflict and fragility, and only use force when it is lawful and as a last resort,” the legislators added, addressing Biden.

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