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article imageOp-Ed: At least 40 civilians die in airstrikes and attack in Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Sep 23, 2019 in World
For the second time within a week, a US military operation in Afghanistan has resulted in a large number of civilians being killed. For the second time as well the US is offering explanations as to why they were not at fault.
US and Afghan commandos attack
The attack was upon a house in Helmand province. Airstrikes were also launched. Although there were certainly Al Qaeda fighters operating in the area a wedding party was also at the battle site and the airstrikes hit an ongoing wedding reception.
There are various estimates of casualties: "..Abdul Majid Akhundzada, a member of the provincial council in Helmand, said at least 40 civilians, including many women and children, were killed in the operation as a wedding party taking place near the targeted building was caught up in the raid. He said the government had been told in advance that a wedding was taking place, but he did not deny that Taliban militants were known to operate in the area."
US claims that most deaths were caused by Al Qaeda
A US report describes the results of the strikes: "A statement released later Monday by the U.S. military command in Afghanistan confirmed there were "targeted precision strikes," but said, "we assess the majority of those killed in the fighting died from al Qaeda weapons or in the explosion of the terrorists' explosives caches or suicide vests."" Note that this account speaks of al Qaeda rather than the Taliban.
US officials told CBS News that there were at least a dozen militants killed in the raid in the area controlled by the Taliban. The militants killed included several senior members of al-Qaeda officials claim.
The Afghan president Ashraf Ghani's spokesperson Sediq Seddiqi said that the president was saddened and devastated to hear that civilians had lost their lives in the incident despite the fact that President Ghani has repeatedly called for extra caution in conducting military operations. As noted earlier the government had been told in advance that the wedding was taking place but US and Afghan forces went on with the attack and the airstrikes anyway.
Just a few days before civilians were killed in Nangarhar Province
A September 19 Reuters article reports: "A U.S. drone strike intended to hit an Islamic State (IS) hideout in Afghanistan killed at least 30 civilians resting after a day’s labor in the fields, officials said on Thursday.The attack on Wednesday night also injured 40 people after accidentally targeting farmers and laborers who had just finished collecting pine nuts at mountainous Wazir Tangi in eastern Nangarhar province, three Afghan officials told Reuters."
Again the US defends the attack: ""There were IS (fighters) there, but it appears during harvest season the locals cut deals with the IS fighters to act as harvesters," said a senior U.S. official who is privy to the counter-terrorism operations conducted by American forces in Afghanistan."
Notice that there is no evidence given of the US claim just the word of an anonymous source familiar with US counter-terror operations in Afghanistan. It would seem that the US is quite willing to launch attacks even though it knows quite well that the result will be that there will be many civilian casualties no doubt to be considered as unfortunate collateral damage. It is hardly surprising that there is growing resentment of US actions and political opposition to the US troops remaining in Afghanistan.
A recent peace deal worked out between the US and the Taliban has been rejected by Trump partly because one US soldier was killed in a Taliban raid. Now Trump is increasing attacks causing even more Afghan civilian casualties in a war that has been going on for nearly 18 years with no end in sight.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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