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Al-Jazeera

Graham's office insisted that the senator did not disclose any classified information [EPA]

A US senator has said that an estimated 4,700 people have been killed in America’s secretive drone war, the first time a government official has offered a total number of fatalities caused by nearly a decade of drone strikes, local media reported.Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the drone raids, revealed the figure in a speech on Wednesday in his home state of South Carolina.

“We’ve killed 4,700,” Graham was quoted as saying by the Easley Patch, a local website covering the small town of Easley. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda,” he told the local Rotary Club.

Graham’s office did not dispute his reported remarks, but said that he had not divulged any classified information.

A spokesman told the AFP news agency that the senator “quoted the figure that has been publicly reported and disseminated on cable news.”

US officials have sometimes hinted at estimates of civilian casualties, but never referred to an actual total body count.

“Now this is the first time a US official has put a total number on it,” said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read More

Al Jazeera

The US government’s growing reliance on aerial drones to pursue its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere is proving controversial – as evidenced by the international reaction to recent drone missile attacks along the border with Pakistan. But Barack Obama’s administration is undeterred, favouring the technology more and more because it reduces the need for American troops in those countries and the risk of politically unpalatable casualties.

“He probably thinks this is already a controversial war,” says Christ Klep, an international relations analysts at the University of Utrecht. “I’d better not endanger my pilots and my special forces, so what else do I have? Unmanned aerial vehicles? Deploy them.”

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