The U.S. Military in Afghanistan reacted to latest report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan regarding civilian casualties during the U.S. airstrikes in western Farah province.
According to a statemen released by the U.S. Military “United States Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A) disputes the findings, legal analysis, and methodology of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report released on October 9, 2019. USFOR-A is concerned by the way UNAMA reached its conclusions and disagrees with their mischaracterization of the Taliban in methamphetamine production facilities; their reliance on sources with conflicted motives or limited knowledge (including the Taliban propaganda website “Voice of Jihad”); and their narrow definition of legally targetable combatants.
The statement further added “By the time USFOR-A decided to conduct precision strikes, intelligence and operations professionals knew what the Taliban narcotics production facilities looked like, exactly where they were and who was allowed entry. USFOR-A and partner organizations also knew the pattern-of-life for their operations and locales. Under U.S. legal definitions and rules and policies governing the conduct of war, and after exhaustive and comprehensive review of the facilities and those running them, USFOR-A and partner entities determined personnel in the labs were members of the Taliban and lawful military targets.
Furthermore, the U.S. Military said “The precision strikes against Taliban methamphetamine labs and Taliban combatants in the early hours of May 5, 2019 accurately targeted and struck sources of Taliban revenues used to fund ongoing indiscriminate violence against innocent Afghans – such as car bombs, rockets and roadside explosives which killed schoolchildren and families.”
This comes as UNAMA had earlier said a United Nations special report, which examines the impact on civilians of United States’ airstrikes on alleged drug-processing facilities on 5 May 2019 in Afghanistan, determines that the operation caused a large number of civilian casualties. The report also examines the legal framework applicable to this incident.
According to UNAMA report “In June 2019, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), together with representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, conducted a site visit to areas impacted by the strikes in Farah province’s Bakwa district, as part of its extensive fact-finding into the 5 May incident.”
The report further added that the UN verified 39 civilian casualties, among them 14 children and one woman, from multiple airstrikes on more than 60 sites that the United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) identified as drug-production facilities in Bakwa district and in parts of the neighbouring Delaram district of Nimroz province.
“Moreover, the UN is working to verify credible reports of at least 37 additional civilian casualties, the majority of whom were women and children,” UNAMA added.