The Wars in Iraq And Afghanistan Have Killed at Least 500,000 People, According to a Report

U.S. Army soldiers return fire in Kunar province, Afghanistan.
U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division return fire after receiving small-arms fire during a combat operation in the valley of Barawala Kalet, Kunar province, Afghanistan, March 29, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Cameron Boyd)

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In the 76 countries in which the U.S. is currently fighting terrorism, at least three have been incredibly deadly: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

And as the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan nears the one year mark, Brown University's Costs of War Project report details just how deadly they've been. It counts how many people have been killed by the "United States' post-9/11 wars" in these three countries, along with others.

The report accounts for deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan between October 2001 and October 2018, and in Iraq between March 2003 and September 2021. 

In October 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to defeat the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and 20 years later, on August 30, 2021, the U.S. completed a chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban regained full control of the country.

During the weeks around the pullout, a suicide bomber killed 200 people in Kabul, and a U.S. drone strike would later kill 10 civilians in the final days of the war. 

In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime under the pretense that the regime had weapons of mass destruction, most notably nuclear weapons. The U.S. pulled out in 2011, paving the way for the rise of ISIS and the re-deployment of U.S. troops. 

Pakistan is a little murkier. Since 9/11, the U.S. has conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan and used the country as a military staging area — but Islamabad has been accused of harboring terrorists as well. 

The Costs of War report (which compiled data from governments, NGOs, media, and more) notes that the actual number of deaths are low because of the limits documenting death in conflict zones.

"For example, tens of thousands of civilians may have died in retaking Mosul and other cities from ISIS but their bodies have likely not been recovered," the report said. 

It also notes that the death toll is only direct deaths — not indirect deaths, such as "loss of access to food, water, health facilities, electricity or other infrastructure."

Here's what they found. 

6,951 U.S. military deaths.

Iraq: 4,550 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 2,401 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths. 

There were also 21 civilian DOD deaths, including six in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq, the Cost of War report notes. 

7,820 U.S. contractor deaths.

Iraq: 3,793 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 3,937 deaths. 

Pakistan: 90 deaths. 

109,154 national military and police deaths.

Iraq: 41,726 deaths.

Afghanistan: 58,596 deaths. 

Pakistan: 8,832 deaths. 

1,464 Allied troop deaths.

Iraq: 323 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 1,141 deaths. 

Pakistan: 0 deaths. 

244,124 — 266,427 civilians.

Iraq: 182,272 — 204,575 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 38,480 deaths. 

Pakistan: 23,372 deaths. 

109,396 — 114,471 opposition fighters.

Iraq: 34,806 — 39,881 deaths.

Afghanistan: 42,100 deaths. 

Pakistan: 32,490 deaths. 

362 journalists and media workers.

Iraq: 245 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 54 deaths. 

Pakistan: 63 deaths. 

566 humanitarian and NGO workers.

Iraq: 62 deaths.

Afghanistan: 409 deaths. 

Pakistan: 95 deaths. 

479,858 — 507,236 total deaths.

Iraq: 267,792 — 295,170 deaths.

Afghanistan: 147,124 deaths. 

Pakistan: 64,942 deaths. 

Read the full report here

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