US Airstrikes in Afghanistan played havoc with civilians: Report

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US Airstrikes in Afghanistan played havoc with civilians: Report

A new study by the Costs of War Project at Brown University reports that the civilian death toll in Afghanistan increased under US President Donald Trump.

The study architect Neta C. Crawford writes that as Trump relaxed military authorization rules for airstrikes in 2017, “the number of civilians killed by international airstrikes increased about 330 percent from 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, to 2019, the most recent year for which there is complete data from the United Nations.”

According to the study, going back even further, between 2016 and 2017, US and Afghan government forces killed “an average of 582 civilians each year,” a number which rose by nearly 95 percent from 2017 to 2019, when an average of 1,134 civilians were killed annually.

Even after the US-Taliban peace deal in February, the study finds, a decline in US bombing has led to the US-sponsored Afghan Air Force killing 156 people and injuring 193 through September alone, “exceeding its total harm to civilians compared to 2019.”

The US Forces-Afghanistan Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett in a statement rejected the report as one-sided.

“We disagree with the one-sided analysis presented in “Costs of War,” which relies on disputed data and ignores civilian casualties caused by Taliban and ISIS attacks,” Leggett said. “This includes ongoing Taliban use of car bombs, IEDs, rockets and targeted killings to intimidate, harass and instill fear across Afghanistan.”

As cited by UNAMA in their most recent quarterly report, civilian casualties caused by US airstrikes "all but ceased” since Feb. 29, the US forces spokesman said.

He added that the same report attributed more than 3,400 civilian casualties to “anti-government elements,” including Daesh and the Taliban.

“We take seriously our duty to train our Afghan counterparts on civilian casualty prevention measures, and we have observed an extraordinary amount of effort and care in their operations. As we have said many times, violence by all sides must reduce substantially to allow the peace process to take hold,” he said.

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