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U.S. military acknowledges allegations of civilian deaths in Afghanistan airstrike

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 11/30/2019 Susannah George

Donald Trump et al. standing in front of a military uniform: President Trump greets members of the military Thursday at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. © Alex Brandon/AP President Trump greets members of the military Thursday at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. KABUL —The U.S. military command in Afghanistan said it is aware of allegations of civilian casualties after an airstrike targeted Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan. The strike was conducted Thursday in Khost province’s Terezayi district along the border with Pakistan, according to the U.S. military statement.

“We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties and working with local authorities to determine the veracity of these claims,” the statement said, adding that the strike targeted three Taliban fighters.

American forces in Afghanistan have stepped up the air campaign against the Taliban over the past year as the two sides are discussing reopening peace talks to end the war. During a visit Thursday to U.S. service members at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, President Trump asserted the Taliban is ready for a cease-fire, but Afghan and Taliban officials said informal discussions aimed at jump starting the peace talks were still ongoing. 

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A local lawmaker from Khost, Janmir Zazai, told The Washington Post the airstrike hit a vehicle, but he was unaware of the number of people killed. The Terezayi district is also known as Alisher.

As the American air campaign has intensified in Afghanistan, civilian casualties have increased. This year the United Nations has recorded record numbers of civilians killed and wounded. According to a U.N. tally released in October airstrikes have killed 579 civilians and wounded 306, nearly a third more than the previous year.

In September the United States dropped more munitions on Afghanistan than in any other month since 2010.

susannah.george@washpost.com

Sharif Hassan contributed to this report.

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