U.S. Military Officials Concede Killing Scores of Civilians in Afghan Strike
The US military is backing off its previous claims that the Farah airstrike, which Afghan officials are now saying killed 147 civilians, was entirely manufactured by the Taliban and the US attacks only destroyed homes full of already dead bodies.
A US investigation has found that its troops were responsible for the deaths of Afghan civilians in air raids earlier this week, American media has reported.
The New York Times and CNN on Friday quoted unnamed Pentagon sources as saying that a preliminary inquiry investigation indicated US raids had resulted in at least some of the civilian casualties in the western Farah province.
Afghan police have maintained that more than 100 people – about 70 of them civilians – were killed in raids and ground fighting in two villages on Monday.
Colonel Greg Julian, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, refused to comment on the reported outcome of the investigation, but said the death toll given by Afghan police was “grossly exaggerated”.
“There were civilian casualties no doubt,” he said on Friday after US military and Afghan teams returned from a joint investigation in Farah.
“But the conclusion from the investigation has not been reached, and it’s inappropriate to indicate one way or the other how they were caused.” >>>
The United States must immediately conduct independent, credible and transparent investigations into air strikes in western Afghanistan that reportedly led to the death of more than 100 civilians, including women and children, said Amnesty International.
The civilians reportedly died as a result of aerial bombardment in support of Afghan National Army units engaged in heavy combat with the Taleban in the western province of Farah overnight on Monday into Tuesday.
If the figures are verified, this attack was one of the deadliest for civilians since the US ousted the Taleban in 2001.
In a public statement, Amnesty International pointed out that the Taleban and other insurgent groups are documented to have frequently launched attacks from civilian areas, knowing that they will attract military response from the Afghan government and allied international military forces.
The US State Department spokesperson Robert Wood, on Tuesday announced a joint investigation with the Afghan government into the incident. In several previous incidents of civilian deaths allegedly caused by the US military, the official investigation has been criticised as incomplete or inaccurate by the Afghan government as well as local and international human rights groups.
According to UN figures, 2,200 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008. More than half that number died in insurgent attacks and nearly 40 per cent were killed by foreign and Afghan forces. There are currently 70,000 foreign troops operating in Afghanistan. More than half of them are from the United States.
As the death toll from a misdirected US attack in Afghanistan rises to 120, a senior Iranian cleric slams apathy in Washington over killing civilians.
A US probe showed on Thursday that the air strikes on two villages in the western province of Farah killed as many as 120 Afghans, including dozens of women and children.
“The US military could not care less about the high civilian casualty; they have an insatiable desire to kill innocent people,” said Tehran’s interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.
Although Washington usually denies reports of high civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the US military on Thursday admitted that most of the people who died in western Afghanistan were “non-combatants”.
Ayatollah Jannati, an influential cleric and politician who chairs the Guardian Council in Iran, added that Washington’s conquest-oriented policies are the main reason behind the current economic crisis in the US.
“Instead of solving their economic woes, the US officialdom continues to take their imperialist war for colonial conquest to other countries,” he added.
Pentagon budget documents showed Thursday that Washington’s military spending in Afghanistan would overtake that of the Iraq conflict in 2010.
According to the documents, the White House has requested a hefty sum of 65 billion dollars for overseas missions in Afghanistan.
- Afghans Protest Days After U.S. Air Raid Kills More Than 100 Civilians (7 May 09 )
- After U.S. Strikes, Afghans Describe ‘Tractor Trailers Full of Pieces of Human Bodies’ (7 May 09)