Major incidents of Afghan civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes in recent years


U.S. drones and fighter jets have been bombing Afghanistan since late 2001 when the United States invaded the landlocked country in Asia.

Shrouded in secrecy, U.S. airstrikes have taken a hidden but heavy toll on civilian lives.

In the latest tragedy on Sunday, at least nine people, including children, were killed in a U.S. drone strike targeting a vehicle in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Here is a list of some of U.S. airstrikes that resulted in multiple deaths of Afghan civilian in recent years. The list is far from being complete as the U.S. campaign is marked by a lack of transparency and accountability:

Aug. 29, 2021:

— A U.S. drone strike on a vehicle in a Kabul neighborhood killed at least nine civilians, allegedly including some children, according to local reports. Some other media also reported that nine members of a family, including six children, were among the dead.

Oct. 26, 2020:

— A U.S. airstrike, which targeted a Taliban stronghold near civilian houses in the Durrani area of Nerkh district, 40 km from Kabul, killed three children. As usual, the Pentagon denied any civilian casualties, but The New York Times said its reporters had confirmed the civilian casualties.

March 2020:

— To make its airstrike campaign even more opaque, the U.S. Central Command stopped publishing its summaries of airstrikes in Afghanistan from March, which meant that there were no figures for airstrikes available after February 2020.

July 19, 2018:

— U.S. airstrikes on a residential compound in Chahar Dara district, Kunduz province, killed 14 women and children, all from the same extended family. The U.S. military initially denied any civilian casualties, and only conducted a probe after “significant protest” from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

October 2017 through 2019:

— Then U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced that the U.S. military had relaxed its rules of engagement for airstrikes in Afghanistan. In the following two years, Afghan civilian casualties due to U.S. airstrikes jumped through 2019. According to the London-based research charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), in 2018 alone, 236 minors were killed by U.S. airstrikes. Another 256 were injured, leaving a total of 492 child casualties.
In 2019, the U.S. Air Force was responsible for more than two thirds of child casualties from airstrikes, according to the AOAV.

Oct. 3, 2015:

— A U.S. AC-130 gunship devastated an Afghan hospital run by the international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, killing 42 civilians and injuring another dozens. A U.S. military internal probe concluded that it “was not a war crime,” arguing that the mistake was caused by a combination of human error and failures of systems and equipment.

Feb. 21, 2010:

— A drone strike in southern Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province killed 23 civilians and wounded 12 others. In a rare move to acknowledge any civilian casualties, the Pentagon later released a report on the incident, criticizing a drone crew for the deadly mistake. Enditem

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