WASHINGTON — More Afghan civilians were killed in the first quarter of 2019 by U.S. and pro-Kabul forces than by the Taliban and other anti-government groups, the United Nations said Wednesday.
The report, issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said a review and study shows that international and pro-government forces were responsible for the deaths of 305 civilians. The Taliban, ISIS and other insurgent groups were responsible for 227 civilian deaths, the report said.
UNAMA started compiling civilian casualty data in 2009. It is the first period of time since the counts started where pro-government forces have killed more civilians than those opposed to Kabul have slain.
The Pentagon dropped a record amount of bombs on Afghanistan during 2018 and is on pace this year to surpass that metric.
“UNAMA urges both the Afghan national security forces and international military forces to conduct investigations into allegations of civilian casualties, to publish the results of their findings, and to provide compensation to victims as appropriate,” the report said.
The report did offer some positive results.
Civilian casualties dropped 23 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first three months of 2018, the report said. UNAMA documented 1,773 casualties in this year’s first quarter: 581 deaths and 1,192 injured, the lowest first-quarter toll since 2013.
That could be a hopeful sign, following last year’s record death toll of 3,804 for Afghan civilians, UNAMA said.
The report comes out as U.S. officials struggle to move the Taliban toward a peace agreement for Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been engaged in fighting since October 2001. Talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government set for this week were scuttled.
The U.S. has about 14,000 troops in the country, joined by forces from NATO and other nations.
On April 12 the International Criminal Court decided not to investigate potential war crimes allegations against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, saying such a probe “would not serve the interests of justice.”
At issue were alleged abuses by U.S. troops that would be given a preliminary examination by the ICC as part of a wider investigation of potentially criminal behavior committed by all parties in Afghanistan’s long conflict.