Disruptions in technology and surveillance
Despite all the promises of high accuracy, American weapons at times simply did not hit. In 2016, the military reported that they killed Neil Prakash, an infamous Australian ISIS recruiter, in a strike on a house in East Mosul. According to the Pentagon, the strike killed four civilians. Several months later, Mr. Prakash was arrested while moving from Syria to Turkey.
Poor or inadequate CCTV recordings often resulted in fatal aiming failures. Subsequently, this also limited attempts to investigate strikes. Of the 1,311 cases examined by The Times, the military found 216 to be “credible.” The reports of civilian casualties were often disregarded as the video did not show any bodies in the rubble, but the footage was often too short to make a reliable determination.
Sometimes only a few seconds were filmed before the impact, which was not enough for investigators to assess the presence of civilians. In some other cases, there was no footage to view at all, which was the basis for the dismissal of the charges. This was often due to “equipment error”, due to the fact that no aircraft “observed and recorded the impact”, or because the unit could not or could not find the footage or did not keep it properly way.
Failure to account for secondary explosions
Targets such as a weapons cache or a power plant had the potential for secondary detonations that often went far beyond the expected blast radius. They account for nearly one third of all civilian casualties recognized by the military and half of all civilian casualties and injuries at sites visited by The Times.
The June 2015 strike at a car bomb factory in Hawija, Iraq is one of the deadliest examples. In the plans for the night attack, the “shed” was considered the nearest “side problem”. But apartment buildings surrounded the area, and dozens of displaced families unable to pay rent also squatted in abandoned buildings nearby. According to a military investigation, about 70 civilians were killed that night.
In response to questions from The Times, Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, said that “even with the best technology in the world, mistakes still happen, whether based on incomplete information or a misinterpretation of available information. And we are trying to learn from these mistakes. ” He added: “We are working hard to avoid such harm. We investigate every credible case. And we regret every loss of innocent lives. “