Airstrikes have killed at least 242 civilians in Libya since the end of the NATO air campaign that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi, as the U.S. and other nations have targeted Islamic extremists and Libyan factions have battled one another, a study said Wednesday.
Airwars, a London-based watchdog group, and New America, a Washington-based think tank, said they have documented more than 2,000 airstrikes in the North African country reportedly conducted by four nations and three local militias since January 2012.
The airstrikes killed at least 242 people and as many as 295, and wounded between 324 and 524 civilians, the study said. The findings are based on news reports and social media posts.
The first documented airstrike after the end of the NATO intervention was in September 2012, after the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. That attack came nearly a year after rebels had toppled and killed Gadhafi, at a time when the nation was sliding into anarchy.
The study said the United States, France, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, along with three local factions, have carried out air and drone strikes in Libya since the end of the NATO intervention. The groups said the study is the first overall accounting of such deaths.
No nation or local group has acknowledged responsibility for any of the documented civilian deaths, the study said, and only 50 percent of the airstrikes were officially declared. The airstrikes killed at least 778 militants, according to the report.
Forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who has been battling rival factions and Islamic militants across eastern Libya, have carried out some 1,112 airstrikes since 2014, killing between 95 and 172 civilians, the report said. Hifter is allied with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which have carried out dozens of airstrikes in support of his forces, killing at least 24 civilians, the report said.
The U.S. provided air support to Libyan forces in 2016 during a six-month offensive to drive the Islamic State group from the coastal city of Sirte. The study said the U.S. has carried out 524 air and drone strikes on militant targets, mainly in Sirte, where they killed at least 10 civilians. Other U.S. strikes may have killed up to 54 civilians, the study said.
The study said France has carried out at least five airstrikes in Libya, which killed as many as eight civilians.