Amid claims that U.S. drone strikes may have broken international law and could constitute war crimes, the White House on Tuesday defended its use of unmanned vehicles to strike terrorist targets around the world.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration, in consultation with the military, works hard to minimize civilian casualties, which, according to recent reports, may be more prevalent than the U.S. acknowledges.
"We take the matter of civilian casualties enormously seriously and the actions we take are mindful of the absolute need to limit civilian casualties," Mr. Carney said Tuesday.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint report on Tuesday that asserted U.S. officials who ordered and carried out secret drone strikes in Pakistan may have committed war crimes.
The studies also highlight individual cases of civilian deaths as a result of drone strikes; most notably, the groups point to a Pakistani grandmother killed by a drone while picking vegetables, the report says.
Civilian deaths as a result of American drone strikes have fueled anger in the Middle East, and some world leaders — including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — increasingly have spoken out against them.
Mr. Sharif is in Washington this week and will meet with President Obama. The issue of U.S. drone strikes is expected to be a main topic of discussion.
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