Associates of the Afghan protection forces patrol in Helmand province on May possibly 17, 2019, a day right after as several as 18 Afghan personnel were being noted killed in U.S. airstrikes. (Watan Yar/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
May well seventeen at 1:25 PM
KABUL — U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan killed as several as 18 Afghan law enforcement officers late Thursday throughout large floor fighting with Taliban forces near the cash of Helmand province, Afghan officials and provincial leaders explained Friday.
U.S. armed service officials right here mentioned the airstrikes, in what they described as a “tragic accident,” killed customers of the Afghan protection forces and Taliban fighters, but they did not say how several from each aspect died.
A spokesman for the U.S. armed service advisory mission in this article, Lt. Col. Dave Butler, said in a statement that Afghan security officers requested “precision air support” for the duration of hefty battling and that U.S. military services personnel experienced labored with Afghan coordinators. The coordinators “confirmed that the spots were being crystal clear of pleasant forces,” he explained. “Unfortunately, they were being not, and a tragic incident resulted.”
U.S. officers are “examining the miscommunication to make sure it is not repeated,” Butler claimed. “We regret this tragic loss of daily life of our partners.”
Afghan officials in Kabul and Helmand gave conflicting info on the selection of casualties, expressing that between 8 and 18 Afghan personnel ended up killed and that fourteen other people have been wounded. They explained the incident, which took position throughout a floor fight on the Kabul-Kandahar freeway, was less than investigation.
The Taliban explained in a statement that U.S. forces were being behind the strikes, but the Helmand governor’s workplace said it was not distinct no matter if Afghan or international forces had carried them out.
The incident transpired amid the popular beat in between Taliban fighters and U.S.-backed Afghan forces that has absent on for months and triggered heavy casualties amongst Afghan troops and civilians.
The Taliban launched its yearly spring offensive in March and has continued intense assaults since very last week, the start out of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer. The Taliban surge is seen as a signifies to get leverage in ongoing peace talks with the United States.
Errant airstrikes this kind of as transpired in Helmand have been fairly exceptional in the course of the yrs of conflict in this article, but Thursday’s incident bore a placing resemblance to a new event in southern Uruzgan province in March, when at least 5 Afghan troopers were being killed and 10 wounded in U.S. airstrikes.
In that circumstance, Afghan defense officials said, the soldiers experienced been patrolling near a checkpoint when they had been attacked from the air. “The attack was induced by deficiency of appropriate coordination,” a defense formal advised the Reuters news company at the time.
In a assertion about the March air attack, the U.S. armed forces claimed its forces had conducted “precision self-protection airstrikes on folks firing on Afghan and American forces” who have been conducting a ground procedure near an Afghan military checkpoint.
Deadlier incidents have transpired. Far more than 40 civilians have been killed in aerial attacks in Oct 2015 in the northern city of Kunduz while a ferocious battle was underway from Taliban insurgents for management of the region. A U.S. AC-a hundred thirty gunship attacked a clinic operate by the charity Medical doctors With out Borders, killing forty two individuals, immediately after receiving bewildered or unclear concentrate on details from Afghan floor forces.
The incident provoked an angry outcry from the Afghan community and led to a significant investigation by U.S. army officers. Due to the fact then, U.S. navy commanders have designed recurring efforts to improve battlefield and air coordination with their Afghan counterparts.
Sharif Hassan and Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report.
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