UN: NATO air raids kill 18 civilians in Helmand
[Feb 13 2017]
UN inquiry concludes air strikes in Helmand's
Sangin district killed at least 18 civilians, mostly women and children.
Civilians, mostly women and children, were killed last
week in air raids by NATO forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province, an
initial United Nations inquiry suggested.
On Thursday and Friday, as many as 18 civilians died
in air strikes in Helmand's Sangin district, according to a UN statement
released on Sunday.
The UN said the strikes had been conducted by
"international military forces," but only US aircraft have been involved
in recent coalition strikes, according to US military officials.
Other US military officials said their aircraft have
conducted around 30 air raids in Helmand in the past week. NATO's
Resolute Support mission has initiated an inquiry into the incident.
"We are investigating the allegations and working
diligently to determine whether civilians were killed or injured as a
result of US air strikes," Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, a US
army spokesman in Afghanistan, said in a statement.
READ MORE: UN to probe US air raid that killed women
But Afghan officials and local residents have given a
different toll of 22 civilians killed during the joint operation carried
out by US and Afghan forces.
The presidential envoy for security in Helmand, Jabar
Qahraman, said the raid against Taliban fighters in the Sangin district
killed 13 people from one family and nine from another.
The NATO-led military mission has deployed hundreds of
troops to Helmand in a bid to help Afghan security forces in their war
against Taliban fighters.
Civilian casualties from both American and Afghan air
strikes increased dramatically last year, according to the UN's most
recent report on threats to civilians.
At least 891 civilians were killed or injured in 2016,
a figure highest in areas outside of Kabul.
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