Sune Engel Rasmussen / The Guardian & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Philip Walter Wellman / Stars and Stripes – 2017-02-14 01:05:06
Afghanistan Civilian Deaths May Have Been Caused by US Airstrike
Sune Engel Rasmussen / The Guardian
KABUL (February 12, 2017) — US airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Helmand province may have been responsible for the deaths of at least 18 civilians, mostly women and children, according to the UN and local sources. Airstrikes took place late on Thursday in Sangin district, which has been highly contested for most of the Afghan war.
It is the first claim of civilian casualties at the hands of US forces in Afghanistan since Donald Trump assumed the US presidency, and comes two weeks after a botched US raid in Yemen allegedly killed dozens of civilians.
The UN said on Sunday: “On 9 and 10 February, international military forces conducted airstrikes in Helmand’s Sangin district reportedly targeting anti-government elements. [The UN’s] initial enquiries suggest that the airstrikes killed at least 18 civilians, nearly all women and children.”
Brig Gen Charles H Cleveland, a spokesman for the international coalition, confirmed that the US conducted approximately 30 airstrikes in Sangin last week.
“We are investigating the allegations and working diligently to determine whether civilians were killed or injured as a result of US airstrikes conducted in support and defence of Afghan forces in or around Sangin,” he said.
The Afghan defence ministry declined to comment, but a government spokesman, Najeeb Danesh, said a delegation from the ministry was investigating.
Haji Ahmand, who lives in Sangin, was in Kandahar when a bomb hit his brother’s house at about 2am. Waiting to visit his wounded relatives outside a hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s capital, he said two boys and two women from his family were killed. The bodies were dug out from under the rubble by Afghan national army soldiers and brought to the hospital, Ahmand said.
“What the Americans are doing in Helmand is not right. They target the locals instead of [the] Taliban. The Taliban are far from my brother’s house,” Ahmand said. “We would prefer if the Americans would just leave us alone.”
In 2016, the UN documented the highest number of civilian casualties of the 15-year Afghan war. According to a report, the number of civilians killed and injured in airstrikes was double that of the previous year, with foreign forces responsible for half. Nearly 1,000 children were killed in the Afghan conflict last year, a yearly rise of 24%.
In another attack in Helmand on Saturday, a car bomb targeting an Afghan army Humvee killed seven civilians, according to the UN, and injured at least seven more. Most of the injured were child street vendors.
Additional reporting by Abdurrauf Mehrpoor in Lashkar Gah
UN Confirms: US Airstrikes in Afghanistan Killed at Least 18 Civilians
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(February 13, 2017) — While the US is still insisting there is “no evidence” of any civilians killed in Friday’s attacks on the Helmand Province, the United Nations has conducted a preliminary assessment, and found at least 18 civilians killed in the US airstrikes, overwhelmingly women and children.
This is roughly in line with local estimates, which put the civilian death toll at 22 in the airstrikes, which destroyed a number of homes in the village of Lakari. The village is under the Taliban’s control, and used as one of several staging areas against Lashkar Gah.
Reports suggest that the US was attempting to target Taliban forces who occupy the village’s mosque, but ended up hitting nearby residential neighborhoods instead, leveling homes and burying a number of civilians within.
The US has promised a formal review, but so far only of the “credibility” of the allegations, and not of the death toll itself. This unwillingness to take such incidents seriously after initial reports is a big part of why official US reports tend to underreport the death tolls quite significantly, as by the time they decide something is credible enough to investigate, all the victims have been buried for months.
UN: US Airstrikes in Afghanistan Kill 18 Civilians
Philip Walter Wellman / Stars and Stripes
KABUL, Afghanistan (February 13, 2017) — — The United Nations has expressed grave concern over escalating violence in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, where it says airstrikes by international forces likely killed more than a dozen civilians, mostly women and children.
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said initial findings of an investigation it is conducting showed no evidence that civilians were killed in the strikes on Thursday and Friday in the hotly contested district of Sangin.
Afghan and coalition forces have been relying increasingly on air power in an effort to stem further advances by the Taliban, who are now said to control 10 percent of the country’s districts and contest 33 percent of them.
“Initial enquiries suggest that the airstrikes killed at least 18 civilians, nearly all women and children,” the UN said in a statement late Sunday, referring to its own investigation.
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