A United Nations report on Wednesday revealed that more Afghan civilians have been killed by the US and pro-government forces than the Taliban and other insurgents.
The bloody milestone comes as the US steps up its air campaign in Afghanistan while pushing for a peace deal with the Taliban, who now control or influence more parts of the country than at any time since they were ousted in 2001.
During the first three months of 2019, international and pro-government forces were responsible for the deaths of 305 civilians, whereas insurgent groups killed 227 people, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report.
Most of the deaths resulted from air strikes or from search operations on the ground, primarily conducted by US-backed Afghan forces, some of which UNAMA said “appear to act with impunity”.
“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 states.
UNAMA started compiling civilian casualty data in 2009 amid deteriorating security conditions in Afghanistan.
It is the first tally since records began that shows pro-government forces have killed more civilians than insurgents have.
In 2017, the US military started quickening its operational tempo after President Donald Trump loosened restrictions and made it easier for American forces to bomb Taliban positions.
While other nations may contribute logistical or technical support, it is US aircraft that conduct most strikes. Afghanistan’s fledgeling air force is also flying more sorties.
The US has sent huge B-52 bombers on runs over the country and benefited from an increase in aerial hardware as operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria tapered off.