In Afghanistan, More Air Raids Mean More Civilian Deaths
Air strikes spiked in September 2017
Afghans living in at least three villages in Chardara district of Kunduz province in Afghanistan were in a rude shock on the evening of Nov. 3, 2017. In a bid to support the Afghan National Army in its ongoing battle against Taliban insurgency in Kunduz, American warplanes trained down munitions on what their pilots apparently believed were enemy targets.
According to media reports, no fewer than 13 civilians are believed to have been killed in these air strikes. However, sources working closely with Afghan forces informed War Is Boring that one was killed and six others injured, and could not verify if any of them were in fact civilians. War Is Boring is unable to confirm the veracity of these claims.
Additionally, in a statement shared with War Is Boring, Resolute Support — the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan — acknowledged the incident. “We are aware of allegations regarding the potential for civilian casualties as the result of combined operations in northern Afghanistan,” Capt. Tom Gresback, a military spokesperson, told War Is Boring.
The coalition “takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously,” Gresback added. “An investigation of the incident is being conducted.”
Since U.S. president Donald Trump announced his new Afghan strategy in the summer of 2017, escalating U.S. air strikes have allegedly claimed several civilian lives in Herat and Logar provinces. The coalition and the Afghan government have acknowledged the Logar and Herat incidents and have launched investigations into both attacks.
The Pentagon reported that its forces expended 751 aerial munitions on Taliban, Islamic State and Khorasan Group targets in September 2017 — a 50-percent increase over August.
Residents of Kunduz province have found themselves caught between insurgents and the pro-government forces several times since 2015. In late 2015, a U.S. air strike targeted a Médecins Sans Frontières facility in the province, killing 42 civilians. In 2016, coalition air raids in the province killed 32 civilians and injured 36 others, mainly women and children.
Air strikes have contributed to steadily rising civilian casualties in 2017. In its third quarter report, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan reiterated its concern over continued increases in civilian casualties from aerial attacks, particularly among women and children.
“During the first nine months of 2017, the mission documented 466 civilian casualties (205 deaths and 261 injured), a 52 percent increase in civilian casualties from air strikes compared to the same period in 2016,” UNAMA reported.