Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Unless something changes," wrote journalist Sonali Kolhatkar, "another 10 years will pass with Americans remaining blind to the reasons for the war and Afghans continuing to pay the price of our ignorance." (Photo: Carpetblogger/flickr/cc)

With Restrictions Loosened and Increased US Bombings, Afghan Civilian Deaths Surge

Uptick comes as U.S. beefs up Afghan air force's fleet and "Mad Dog" Mattis loosens restrictions on strikes

Days after the U.S. military said the number of airstrikes its coalition carried out in Afghanistan had soared, United Nations data released Thursday spotlights the human cost of the escalated bombing.

From the beginning of January until the end of September, UNAMA said, over 200 civilians died and 261 were injured from aerial attacks—a 52 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

The strikes have taken a particular toll on women and children, as they make up 68 percent of the victims.

The U.N. put the blame for 38 percent of the casualties from the airstrikes at the hands of the U.S.-led coalition, with Afghan forces, who are now carrying out their own airstrikes, being responsible for the bulk.

Their own fleet is being beefed up thanks to the U.S. military, which in turn is looking to carry out more strikes.

Portending more airstrikes carried out by Afghan air power, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said last week, "A tidal wave of Afghan airpower is on the horizon."

Nicholson, speaking from a ceremony at the Kandahar airfield after two Black Hawks from the U.S. military—the first of 159—joined the Afghan fleet, said, "The momentum has shifted, and it is irreversible."

In another signal of potentially increasing causalities, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told congressional committees last week he was loosening "proximity requirements" to strike the Taliban. "It used to be we have to basically be in contact with that enemy," he told the House Armed Services Committee.

"That is no longer the case," he said at the Senate Armed Services Committe. "So these kind of restrictions that did not allow us to employ the air power fully have been removed, yes."

The number of U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan were at a seven-year high in September, recently released military data shows, thanks in part to President Donald Trump's war strategy for country. The U.S.-led coalition dropped 751 bombs last month, a nearly 50-percent increase from August. 

Meanwhile, with the invasion of Afghanistan having reached its 16-year anniversary last week, peace groups continue their calls for a full withdrawal of U.S. forces.

"Unless something changes," wrote journalist Sonali Kolhatkar, "another 10 years will pass with Americans remaining blind to the reasons for the war and Afghans continuing to pay the price of our ignorance."

According to Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis, Trump's plan is "a recipe for permanent war."

"There is no military solution. We need diplomacy, not war," she stressed.  "It's the only thing that will work."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·

'Counseling Not Criminalization' Bill Unveiled to Boot Police From US Schools

"For too long our education system has been intertwined with the criminal legal system and the results have been tragic."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·

After Iraq War Authorization Repealed, Calls Grow to 'Do the 2001 AUMF Next'

"We must keep up our fight to repeal the 2001 AUMF so that no future president has the unilateral power to plunge us into endless wars," said Rep. Barbara Lee.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·