In this 2010 file photo, an unmanned US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan.
In this 2010 file photo, an unmanned US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan. Kirsty Wigglesworth

Military drones drop 'real worry' in US power

DONALD Trump will inherit a military drone-targeted assassination program for which Barack Obama has failed to restrict and which has killed up to 4666 people, including 745 civilians, new figures show.

Experts on the US's covert use of drones in its war on terror believe Mr Trump could use the sophisticated military hardware, which are mostly piloted remotely from the US, to fulfil previous pledges to "bomb the s**t” out of Islamic State and "wipe Somali pirates off the face of the Earth”.

There are worries this could result in an increased death toll of innocent civilians, or "collateral damage” as some military strategists label them.

New figures collated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London show that President Obama had authorised 541 CIA drone strikes on alleged Islamist extremists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in the past eight years - 10 times more than his predecessor George W Bush.

The Bureau believes these strikes have killed between 2906 and 4666 people, of whom at least 325 were civilians, although the figure could be as high as 745. Many of the rest were regarded by the US as terrorist operatives working for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Shabaab and other Islamist extremist groups.

All these strikes were carried out in areas where there is no officially declared US theatre of war.

In addition, Airwars, another UK-based journalism and reporting project, estimates a further 900 drone strikes have been authorised by the Pentagon since 2014 in the official war zones of Iraq and Syria.

Airwars director Chris Woods - a former BBC journalist who helped establish the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's drone-reporting project - believes there is a "real worry” about how Mr Trump might use the technology.

He said Mr Obama's failure to set in stone effective military drone rules could be exploited by his successor.

"You have to listen to what he (Trump) has already said. He's already said he might deliberately target the families of senior ISIS militants - which would be a war crime,” he said.

- INM



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