At least five civilians, including four women and one child, lost their lives in an operation by Afghan forces supported by foreign troops in Surobi district in Kabul on Monday, the Resolute Support confirmed on Tuesday.
“Last night, Afghan security forces and a small contingent of US advisors conducted a raid in Surobi district, Kabul province,” the Resolute Support spokesman Debra Richardson said.
“During the operation, airstrikes were used after Taliban fighters armed with machine guns were positively identified. Unfortunately, 4 women and 1 child were killed,” he added.
“We own every munition - every strike - and while we strive to minimize non-combatant casualties through every stage of an operation from operational planning, to targeting to execution. The nature of war is horrific. The most effective way to end the suffering of non-combatants is to end the fighting,” he added.
He said that they are reviewing the operation with their Afghan partners.
“It is likely the Taliban Sarobi District Shadow Governor was killed along with six Taliban fighters,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement that Mullah Rasheed, a key commander of the Taliban, was killed in the operation in Surobi district in Kabul.
The statement added that casualties were inflicted to civilians in a counterattack by Afghan forces in response to the Taliban’s firing.
This comes as 13 civilians were killed in an operation by Afghan forces in the northern Kunduz province on March 22. UNAMA in a statement confirmed civilian deaths in Kunduz.
President Ashraf Ghani on March 13 ordered the National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to abide by strict rules for preventing civilian casualties in their operations against militants.
A UN report from last month shows that a record number of civilians were killed in 2018.
“As President of a responsible state, I must say that civilian casualties are the most tragic event in times of war, it pains me as much as any other Afghan when I hear about harm to civilians,” Ghani said.
He made the remarks at a meeting with senior security officials from his cabinet as well as from the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
Ghani said the Afghan security agencies have taken urgent steps whenever they have received any reports on civilian casualties.
The United Nations in a report released last month said the organization has documented 3,804 civilian deaths, including 927 children, in 2018.
In total, UNAMA documented 10,993 civilian casualties (3,804 deaths and 7,189) wounded), representing a five percent increase in overall civilian casualties and an 11 percent increase in civilian deaths compared with 2017.
In this report, UNAMA attributes the majority of civilian casualties – 63 percent – to anti-government elements (37 percent to Taliban, 20 percent to Daesh, and 6 percent to undetermined anti-government elements).
According to the report, pro-government forces caused 24 percent civilian deaths (14 percent by Afghan national security forces, six percent by international military forces, and four percent by other pro-government armed groups and forces).
The report says that key factors contributing to the significant increase in civilian casualties were a spike in suicide attacks by anti-government elements, mainly Daesh, as well as increased harm to civilians from aerial and search operations by pro-government forces.
The report says that 2018 witnessed the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded from suicide attacks and aerial operations.