The New York Times, August 30, 2017
At Least 11 Afghan Civilians Killed in American Airstrikes
“Three families were living in the house which was bombed; 11 people, including eight women, were killed,”
By Fahim Abed
KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 11 civilians were killed Wednesday in American airstrikes in southeastern Afghanistan, witnesses and officials said, the second deadly allied strike in three days to add to the country’s mounting civilian death toll.
The airstrikes, near Dasht e Barai, in Logar Province, came during a joint Afghan and American military operation to pursue Taliban forces, said Salim Salih, a spokesman for the provincial governor, and it was part of President Trump’s new strategy to bolster Afghan forces combating insurgents.
The allied forces had come under fire from the Taliban and had called for air support, Mr. Salih said, and the Taliban fighters sought cover in nearby homes.
Aug. 29, 2017: A woman who was wounded during an airstrike in Herat Province, Afghanistan, receives treatment. The airstrike occured the day before and killed at least 13 civilians. (Photo: Mohammad Shoib/Reuters)
A delegation dispatched from the provincial capital, Pul e Alam, to the site of the battle found 11 civilians had been killed and 16 wounded, Mr. Salih said. He added that two Taliban commanders were also killed.
“Three families were living in the house which was bombed; 11 people, including eight women, were killed,” Hawas Khan Kochai, a resident of the Dasht e Bari area, said by phone. “We recovered all the bodies with an excavator after several hours, but two children are still missing.”
Capt. Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said an American helicopter had made a “precautionary landing because of a maintenance issue” in Logar on Wednesday, but there were no casualties. He would not say whether the airstrikes occurred in the area where the helicopter had landed.
“We are looking into reports of civilian casualties,” Captain Salvin said.
United States military officials said recently that they had increased American air support and personnel to help train Afghan security forces since President Trump announced more than a week ago his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. The air support is meant to bolster Afghan forces who are fighting difficult battles against a resurgent Taliban, who have regained control of portions of the country.
From January through July, the United States military dropped 1,245 bombs and other ordnance in Afghanistan, over 500 more than had been dropped during the same period last year. The Afghan Air Force, too, has been increasingly active, but its bombs are harder to track.
On Monday, residents and officials in Herat Province in western Afghanistan said airstrikes there had killed more than a dozen civilians. A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense said that the strikes had been carried out by the Afghan Air Force and that 18 Taliban fighters had been killed.
With the Taliban deeply entrenched in Afghan villages, and often no clear front line to the war, civilian casualties have become a recurring issue as the American-led coalition deploys more air power to help support Afghan forces trying to regain territory lost to the Taliban.
During President Barack Obama’s troop surge after 2010, frequent civilian casualties caused by airstrikes were a main reason that relations deteriorated between Washington and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
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