Barack Obama has confirmed for the first time that US drones have been used to target individuals in Pakistan, the Telegraph reports.
In a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube, Obama discussed for the first time the covert drone program that has dramatically escalated under the Obama administration. Previously the administration refused to discuss the strikes publicly.
Talking down the estimated civilian casualties as a result of the strikes, Obama said: “I want to make sure the people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part they have been very precise, precision strikes against Al-Qaeda and their affiliates, and we’re very careful in terms of how it’s been applied.”
The New America Foundation think tank in Washington says drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in the past eight years, while the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates between 2,386 and 3,015 people have been killed including between 391 and 780 civilians and around 175 children killed. It is not known whether Obama is accepting these civilian death counts as not being a “huge number” or whether his own administration has much lower estimated death counts. Either way, human rights campaigners have expressed deep concern over increased use of drone strikes.
- Obama Confirms Drone Strikes in Pakistan – Voice of America (voanews.com)
- Civilian Deaths Due to Drones Are Not Many, Obama Says – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Barack Obama admits US drone strikes on Pakistan (telegraph.co.uk)
- With its deadly drones, the US is fighting a coward’s war | George Monbiot (guardian.co.uk)