United Nations expresses grave concern about US Afghan strikes

Cheryl Sanders
October 10, 2019

USA air attacks on alleged Taliban drug labs in Afghanistan killed or wounded dozens of civilians in May, says a United Nations report, which has been rejected by the U.S. military.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) conducted an investigation over four months looking into what happened on 5 May when the USA military bombed dozens of sites it had identified as Taliban methamphetamine labs.

It added that it was working to verify an additional 37 civilian deaths, mostly women and children.

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".

The UN said it had also found credible evidence of at least 30 more deaths, the majority of whom it said were women and children.

Workers at the alleged labs "were not performing combat functions", it said, and "were therefore entitled to protection from attack". "In addition to imagery collection during the precision strikes, USFOR-A conducted exhaustive assessments of the facilities and surrounding areas after the strikes", the command said in a statement.

Since late 2017, US forces have attacked sites believed to be used for processing drugs as part of efforts to cut off funds to the Taliban militant group.

A spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) denied that the strikes had caused any civilian casualties, insisting that the US had conducted "precision" strikes on what it knew to be Taliban methamphetamine labs.

In August, the United Nations claimed in a report that the USA and its allies in Afghanistan have been responsible for more civilian deaths in the country than the Taliban.

UNAMA argued that the methamphetamine production facilities were owned and operated by criminal groups, which is why they "did not meet the definition of legitimate military objectives under global law".

Air strikes on reported drug labs have happened before, but this is the first time UNAMA received reports of a high number of civilian casualties, it said.

The US and its allies launched a military operation in Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, which were staged by the al-Qaeda* terror group, backed by then Taliban-led government of Afghanistan.

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