Some 700 civilians were killed in 2019 – more than any year since the war began – after the Pentagon relaxed its rules of engagement, the report said.
The deaths of Afghan civilians in airstrikes carried out by the United States and its allies have “increased dramatically” since 2017, when Washington relaxed its criteria and stepped up attacks on the Taliban, according to a report published Monday.
The number of civilians killed each year in the United States and in coalition airstrikes has climbed 330% to around 700 civilians in 2019, said Neta C Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War project at Brown University. . More civilians died in 2019 than any year since the war began in 2001, according to the report.
The United States withdrew from the airstrikes after reaching a deal with the Taliban in February 2020. But the Afghan armed forces have stepped up their efforts by starting talks with the rebels.
While the total death toll from airstrikes has dropped, the attacks are now coming from forces in Kabul and have accelerated in recent months.
The Afghan Air Force (AAF), Crawford wrote, “is now doing more harm to Afghan civilians than at any time in its history.”
She said that in the first six months of 2020, 86 Afghan civilians were killed and 103 injured in AAF air strikes.
Over the next three months, as the Afghan-Taliban talks continued in Doha, the toll intensified, with 70 civilians killed and 90 injured.
She called for a negotiated ceasefire while the two sides discuss a deal, to avoid further civilian injuries.
But as the United States accelerates the withdrawal of its troops, some fear that the Taliban could take the opportunity to put more pressure on the forces in Kabul, triggering retaliation.
“Unless there is a ceasefire, both sides will continue to try to gain a tactical advantage while negotiations are ongoing. The number of civilian lives is likely to increase, ”Crawford wrote.
According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and 60,000 others injured in the past decade, when the organization began compiling the data.