CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
(September 17, 2021) — On Friday, the head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) admitted that the August 29th drone strike in Kabul killed 10 civilians, including seven children, and did not kill any ISIS-K members.
“As many as 10 civilians, including up to 7 children, were tragically killed in that strike. Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K,” said CENTCOM Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie.
The Pentagon initially claimed the strike killed an ISIS-K member and prevented an “imminent” attack on the Kabul airport. Gen. Mark Milley described the strike as “righteous,” and the White House said it was “successful.” But an investigation by The New York Times found the bombing targeted 43-year-old Zemari Ahmadi, an aid worker employed by a US-based NGO, and killed nine members of his family.
“This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology,” said McKenzie. He added that he is “fully responsible for this strike and this tragic outcome.”
The slaughter of the Ahmadi family is typical of US drone strikes. In 2015, documents leaked by whistleblower Daniel Hale, who was recently sentenced to 45 months in prison, revealed that during a five-month period between 2012 and 2013, 90 percent of the people killed by US drones were civilians.
The August 29th strike received so much scrutiny because of all the media attention on the US evacuation from Kabul. Often times US drone strikes target rural areas where there are virtually no reporters on the ground, and they are ignored by Western media. In Afghanistan, US drones and warplanes slaughtered scores of civilians in the final years of the war.
Afghan Civilian Deaths from US Air Raids
Rose by More than 300 Percent
(December 8, 2020) — Deaths of Afghan civilians in air raids carried out by the United States and its allies “increased dramatically” since 2017 when Washington loosened its criteria and escalated attacks on the Taliban, according to a report released on Monday.
The number of civilians killed annually in US and coalition air attacks soared by 330 percent to some 700 civilians in 2019, said Neta C Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University. More civilians died in 2019 than any other year since the beginning of war in 2001, according to the report.
The US pulled back on air raids after striking an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020. But the Afghan Armed Forces stepped up their own as they entered talks with the rebels.
While total deaths from air attacks has fallen, attacks are now coming from Kabul’s forces and have accelerated in recent months.
The Afghan Air Force (AAF), Crawford wrote, is now “harming more Afghan civilians than at any time in its history”.
Some 700 civilians, including children, were killed in 2019 –
after the Pentagon relaxed its rules of engagement
She said that in the first six months of 2020, 86 Afghan civilians were killed and 103 injured in AAF air raids.
In the three subsequent months, as Afghan-Taliban talks continued in Doha, the toll intensified, with 70 civilians killed and 90 injured.
She urged a negotiated ceasefire while the two sides discuss a deal, to avoid more civilian injuries.
But with the US accelerating the withdrawal of its troops, some worry that the Taliban could take advantage to further pressure Kabul’s forces, sparking reprisals.
“Unless there is a ceasefire, both sides will continue trying to gain a tactical advantage while negotiations are under way. The toll on civilian lives is likely to increase,” Crawford wrote.
According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade, when the organisation began compiling the data.
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