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Afghanistan: Increasing civilian deaths from airstrikes

September 27, 2018

afghanistan-airstrikeeSummary: UN concerned over a 50% increase in Afghan civilian casualties from airstrikes

New York Times – and many other outlets – highlighting a concerned warning from the United Nations.

NYT, 27 September: The number of civilians killed by Afghan and American airstrikes is rising, the United Nations said Tuesday, as the Afghan government increasingly relies on airpower in its fight against a resurgent Taliban.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said 21 civilians were killed in two airstrikes last weekend and urged all parties to the conflict to take stronger measures to protect civilians…Its ground forces stretched as they fight insurgents in about two dozen of the country’s 34 provinces, the Afghan government relies heavily on airstrikes to push back against Taliban gains. Although American forces conduct most of the strikes, the Afghan Air Force is increasingly involved,  carrying out as many as two dozen strikes a day…”

Some stark statistics from the UN suggest a 50% increase in civilian casualties compared to the same period last year:

UN Press release: In the first six months of the year, UNAMA documented 353 civilian casualties (149 deaths and 204 injured) from aerial attacks, a 52 per cent increase from the same period in 2017. It is of particular concern that women and children made up more than half of all aerial attack civilian casualties. The Mission attributed 52 per cent of all civilian casualties from aerial attacks to the Afghan Air Force, 45 per cent to international military forces, and the remaining three per cent to unidentified Pro-Government Forces. Around seven per cent of all civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict in the first half of the year were attributed to air operations.

It seems a major cause is the Afghan army now being empowered with ground attack aircraft and using it more – but with less skill than the US.

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