Afghan civilians are for the first time being killed in greater numbers by US and pro-government forces than by the Taliban and other insurgent groups, a UN report released yesterday revealed.
The bloody milestone comes as the US steps up its air campaign in Afghanistan while pushing for a peace deal with the Taliban, who now control or influence more parts of the country than at any time since they were ousted in 2001.
During the first three months of 2019, international and pro-government forces were responsible for the deaths of 305 civilians, whereas insurgent groups killed 227 people, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report.
The majority of the deaths resulted from US air strikes or from search operations on the ground, primarily conducted by US-backed Afghan forces, some of which UNAMA said “appear to act with impunity”.
“UNAMA urges both the Afghan national security forces and international military forces to conduct investigations into allegations of civilian casualties, to publish the results of their findings, and to provide compensation to victims as appropriate,” the report states.
UNAMA started compiling civilian casualty data in 2009 amid deteriorating security conditions in Afghanistan.
It is the first tally since records began that shows pro-government forces have killed more civilians than insurgents have, though insurgents were responsible for more than twice as many injuries as were pro-government forces.