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UN Report Indicates 39 Civilian Killed in US Air Strikes

KABUL – A UN report released on Wednesday criticized US airstrikes on alleged drug facilities in Afghanistan, saying the attacks were unlawful and caused significant civilian casualties.
The reported further added that the U.N. verified 39 civilian casualties, among them 14 children and a woman, from multiple airstrikes on more than 60 sites.
The US military disputes the U.N. findings, criticizing the report’s verification methods and denying there were civilians among the dead.
US and Afghan forces identified the locations as drug-production facilities in Bakwa district in Farah province and in Delaram district in Nimroz province.
But the UN said that delegation visited the site with Afghanistan Human Rights Commission. It says it is also looking at another possible 37 civilian casualties.
The report also said some of the targets hit were civilian homes.
“In one incident on May 5, in Shagai village of Bakwa district, multiple reliable and credible sources reported that three children were killed when an airstrike impacted their home,” it said.
“After one strike hit close to the house, the father shouted to his family members to run away from the house before a second bomb was dropped on the house. Three young boys, aged between one and a half to seven years old, were unable to escape in time,” the report added.
The U.N. said it had received “specific and detailed” information on 145 civilian casualties but could so far only verify 39 casualties.
The U.S. military insisted the U.N. had wrongly identified those in the labs as civilians, saying they were Taliban.
It also raised doubts about the sources for the U.N. information, claiming they either had conflicted motives or lacked adequate knowledge.
In a two-page rebuttal to the U.N. report, the U.S. military said the May strikes followed a year-long intelligence operation to locate and monitor the drug labs. The strikes took place in daytime, to allow for effective identification of those entering and leaving the area, it said.
US military and Afghan forces had taken detailed steps before as well as after the strikes, resulting in their conclusion that no civilians were targeted, the statement said.
The statement, however, accused the Taliban of hiding behind civilians, and added that the US military investigates and compensates whenever civilians are found to be hurt or killed in Airstrikes.
“This is not such a case,” it said.
The U.S. has come under increasing criticism for civilian casualties as a result of airstrikes in recent months in Afghanistan.
(Sahar News)

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