United Nations officials have said that there is “convincing evidence” that a U.S. airstrike in the Herat province of Afghanistan on August 21 killed at least 90 civilians, including 60 children. President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack earlier this week. The U.S. dismissed the criticism as “outrageous.” After the statement from U.N. officials, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman insisted that the attack “was a legitimate strike on a Taliban target.”
An anonymous official in Washington told the Washington Post that it was the Taliban’s fault if the U.S. was killing civilians. “The fact is that the Taliban now has pretty good insight into where we’re picking up information and how we’re developing it into actionable intelligence. They’ve figured out a way to misguide us.”
Russia introduced a statement at the U.N. expressing concern about the civilian death toll resulting from U.S. airstrikes, but any such statement presented for adoption in the Security Council will simply be vetoed by the U.S.
Human Rights Watch is expected to publish a report on civilian deaths in Afghanistan next month. Marc Garlasco, a military analysts for the human rights group, said, “Civilian deaths are not a NATO problem. Civilian casualties are primarily being caused in airstrikes in support of the counterterrorism mission that the United States is running completely separate from the NATO-run counterinsurgency conflict.” He also said that the U.S. has escalated its bombing in Afghanistan, dropping as much tonnage in June and July as it did in all of 2006.
According to Afghan officials and independent investigators, more than 165 civilians have been killed in the last two months from four airstrikes. A U.S. airstrike on July 6 killed 27 people at a wedding party.