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21.39 1 Apr 2015


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A report has found that 1.3m people have lost their lives as a direct or indirect result of the ‘War on Terror’.

The study collates figures from a wide range of sources for the number of people killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan - as a direct or indirect result of the United States led 'War on Terror' - from September 11 until the end of 2013.

The report, 'Body Count: casualty figures after 10 years of the War on Terror' is authored jointly by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. 

The report notes that the 1.3m total is a conservative estimate, stating:

“The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.

“The 21st century has seen a loss of innocent civilian life at an unprecedented scale, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan," it notes.

The 101 page analysis finds that 1 million people have been killed in Iraq - five per cent of the entire population of Iraq - 220,000 in Afghanistan, and 80,000 in Pakistan. Deaths in other regions, such as Yemen, where the US has carried out multiple drone strikes, are not included in the tally. Deaths among refugees of the conflict, due to lack of food and basic essentials, are also not included in the figures.

The report claims that US and NATO forces, and politicians, have previously downplayed the civilian cost of war in the Middle East in the past 14 years.

The authors note that their figures are, “approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs.”

“(A)t a time when U.S. and NATO casualties in the “wars on terror” have been, from an historical standpoint, relatively low, it has been politically important to downplay Allied forces’ responsibility for the massive carnage and destruction in the region,” the foreword notes.

One of the report's authors argues that the true cost of military action in the studied nations since 2001 is downplayed intentionally. Dr Hans-C. von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary general and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in his preface to the report, says this is done to preserve the “arguments that freeing Iraq by military force from a dictatorship, removing al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and eliminating safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas has prevented terrorism from reaching the US homeland, improved global security and advanced human rights, all at 'defendable costs'."

Dr von Sponeck says “casualties, injured or killed, involving enemy combatants and civilians” are “officially ignored” by those involved in the US-led coalition occupation of Iraq and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Previous studies have reported death tolls approaching one million, although the findings were disputed. A 2006 study by the John Hopkins University, published in medical journal The Lancet, estimated a death toll in Iraq, after three years of war, at 665,000 as a result of the occupation, war and their indirect consequences.

Tony Blair’s official spokesperson at the time said the figures were not anywhere near accurate, while George W. Bush said he didn’t “consider it a credible report.”


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