NATO underreported civilian killings in Libyan airstrikes

May 14, 2012 12:00 AM

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the NATO military alliance of underreporting civilian casualties during its campaign against the regime of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The rights organization accused NATO of failing to acknowledge the scope of collateral damage caused by its airstrikes, urging the alliance to compensate civilian victims and launch a probe into the deaths of the civilians killed in the aerial attacks.
“Attacks are allowed only on military targets, and serious questions remain in some incidents about what exactly NATO forces were striking,” said Fred Abrahams, a special adviser at HRW and principal author of the latest report of the organization on NATO’s Libya campaign.

The report claims to be the most extensive investigation into the death toll of NATO air assaults, presenting a higher death toll estimate than the one given in an Amnesty International report released in March.
The HRW report described NATO’s failure to thoroughly investigate the cases of civilian deaths as "deeply disappointing".

NATO has, however, argued that it took unprecedented care to “minimize risks to civilians” and it had no presence on Libyan soil to confirm the deaths.
“We deeply regret any instance of civilian casualties for which NATO may have been responsible,” said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

NATO began a military campaign against Libya in March 2011 after the UN Security Council approved a resolution, authorizing force by whatever means necessary, except a ground invasion, to "protect civilians" in Libya.
From March 19, 2011 to October 31, 2011, NATO warplanes reportedly carried out some 26,000 sorties, including over 9,600 strike missions.

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