Afghan violence reduction begins with Afghan-Taliban clash and new civilian casualty numbers

Afghan violence reduction begins with Afghan-Taliban clash and new civilian casualty numbers

A U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter comes in for a landing in Southeastern Afghanistan January 16, 2020. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Brown-Bell)

WASHINGTON – The planned week of reduction of violence in Afghanistan between U.S. forces and the Taliban took hold this weekend, even as Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces clashed in parts of Afghanistan.

That fighting did not trigger a halt to the seven-day test, which is to culminate this weekend in a more extensive peace plan between the U.S. and Taliban forces.

The U.S. has stopped offensive action against the Taliban as part of the seven-day test, according to reports.

“We’ve been over there 19 years. We think they want to make a deal. We want to make a deal,” President Trump told reporters at the White House on Sunday, according to news reports.

The Afghan government is not part of either scheme. As the Taliban and the U.S. talk, the Afghan government is falling into disarray and a power struggle after the refusal of a losing presidential candidate to accept the result.

Pentagon officials have not been able to identify the metrics to be used to determine what constitutes a reduction in violence under the agreed-upon plan. “I think we’re starting to get down the speculative rabbit hole in the future here,” Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon spokesperson, said when asked by TMN.

The seven-day period stated as the United Nations released its latest report on civilian casualties in the war. According to the report, produced by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, more than 3,400 civilians were killed and nearly 7,000 injured during 2019. That put total civilian casualties in the past decade over 100,000.

The Taliban was responsible for the largest share of casualties, at 47%, and more than 1,300 deaths. Next were Afghan national security forces, at 16% and 680 deaths, while international forces, including the U.S., were responsible for 8% of the civilian casualties with 559 deaths, the report said.

Thirty percent of the casualties were children, the report said. Improvised explosive devices were the method used in 42 percent of the casualties, while 2019 also saw record-high levels of civilian casualties from airstrikes, killing and injuring more than 1,000. Most airstrikes were attributed to international military forces, the report said.

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