james clapper
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on “Russia’s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, US. January 10, 2017. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

US National Intelligence Director James Clapper has reported that the Obama administration has killed between 64 and 116 civilians through its counterterror strikes. The number of combatants killed increased from 2,803 to 3,022. Between January 2009 and December 2016, the government conducted 526 counterterror strikes including unmanned drones.

In the report titled the "Summary of 2016 Information Regarding United States Counterterrorism Strikes Outside Areas of Active Hostilities," civilians were called as non-combatants who were classified as individuals that may not be made the object of attack under the international law. An individual who was not part of the hostilities and armed conflicts were also called non-combatant.

The report was the second public assessment of the Obama administration providing information about the air strikes the government conducted. The report did not mention the location of the strikes but Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya were Defence Department and CIA pursued targets. Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were not included in the statistics. "The 2016 figures released today should be considered in light of the inherent limitations on the ability to determine the precise number of combatant and non-combatant deaths given the non-permissive environments in which these strikes often occur," Clapper wrote in the report.

Based on the estimation of the non-government organisations, the new numbers released were 10 times more than the figures during President George W Bush. The Center for Civilians in Conflict said that hundreds more were killed contradicting the report. The estimation of the non-governmental organisations was supported by senior US officials who believed that there was a discrepancy in number.

One of the discrepancy reasons included the accessibility of the government to sensitive intelligence. They said that the deceased can be identified accurately if the records are accessible. However, human groups said the discrepancy could be cleared up if the names of the victims would be disclosed.

Although the figures were not as detailed as it was expected, the Center for Civilians in Conflict director Federico Borello applauded Obama's government for being transparent to the public. He hoped that Donald Trump would continue the same effort.