KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and US forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday rejected a Brown University’s report that claimed about 700 Afghan civilians were killed in airstrikes by US and allies last year.
US researchers said Afghan civilian deaths from foreign airstrikes conducted by the US and its allies shot up by 330 percent since 2017.
About 700 Afghan civilians were killed in raids by the US and allies last year alone, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project.
Citing the study, the BBC reported it was the highest figure since the first years of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
The increasing figures were tied to the US relaxing its rules of engagement in 2017. The rising air strikes were also linked to fewer US troops on the ground.
Researchers believe the increasing airstrikes appear to mount more pressure on the Taliban to negotiate peace with the Afghan government.
The study also noted an increase in aerial attacks by the Afghan forces since the US and Taliban inked a peace pact on February 29.
Eighty-six civilians were killed and 103 others wounded in strikes by the Afghan military in the first half of the current year, the study added.
But Afghanistan Ministry of Defense rejected the report. FawadAman, spokesman for the ministry, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the main reason behind civilian casualties were the Taliban.
He said the Taliban used civilians as human shield and carried out blasts and suicide attacks in cities.
According to Aman, civilians’ protection was the duty of national army and they are committed to civilians’ safety.
US forces spokesman in Afghanistan COL Sonny Leggett also said they disagree with the one-sided analysis presented in “Costs of War,” which relies on disputed data and ignores civilian casualties caused by Taliban and ISIS attacks.
“This includes ongoing Taliban use of car bombs, IEDs, rockets and targeted killings to intimidate, harass and instill fear across Afghanistan. “
As cited by UNAMA in their most recent quarterly report, civilian casualties caused by US airstrikes “all but ceased” since Feb. 29. That same report attributed more than 3,400 civilian casualties to “anti-government elements,” including ISIS and the Taliban, Col. Leggett said.
“We take seriously our duty to train our Afghan counterparts on civilian casualty prevention measures, and we have observed an extraordinary amount of effort and care in their operations. As we have said many times, violence by all sides must reduce substantially to allow the peace process to take hold.”