As the Trump administration continues its “peace talks” with the Taliban — with the latest round taking place earlier this month in Qatar — there’s been an uptick in fighting between U.S. forces and our would-be partners, with the latest U.S. airstrikes killing ten children and three adult civilians, and wounding three other adults.
On Monday, the United Nations said that the children were all part of the same extended family, and were killed on Saturday as U.S. and Afghan forces fought Taliban fighters for nearly 30 hours in the northern province of Kunduz.
“A plane came and bombed the area and martyred 13 members of one family last night at around 1 a.m.,” a Kunduz resident told Afghanistan’s TOLOnews.
A Taliban stronghold, U.S. airstrikes in the province have sent families fleeing the area, adding to the mass internal displacement crisis facing the country.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted that the children and their family had already been displaced from another area, fleeing fighting elsewhere in the country.
Mawlawi Khosh Mohammad, member of Kunduz Provincial Council, told TOLOnews that the family had been displaced from the district of Dasht-e-Archi. The site also quoted a Ministry of Defense statement saying that 58 Taliban fighters were killed in the airstrikes.
While Sgt. Debra Richardson, the spokeswoman for the NATO-led mission, said in a statement that U.S. forces had carried out an air strike, she added that the mission had not yet confirmed civilian casualties. Richardson said that 87 Taliban fighters were killed, and noted that the Taliban often hide among civilians.
UNAMA’s Annual Protection of Civilians Report, which was released in February, indicated a 24 percent increase in civilian casualties between 2017 and 2018. It further noted that child casualties resulting from airstrikes have consistently increased since 2014.
Led by the State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s ongoing talks with the Taliban are seen as problematic by some in the country. For one thing, the Afghan government has been excluded, in accordance with a pre-condition the Taliban insisted upon before these talks could take place.
Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib told reporters that the Afghan government was completely in the dark during a March visit to Washington, D.C.
“We don’t know what’s going on. We don’t have the kind of transparency that we should have,” he said, adding he had no idea how to reassure Afghan security forces that “they are not being sold out.”
President Donald Trump has indicated a desire to pull out as many as half of the 14,000 U.S. troops currently there. However, reports suggest that the number of troops being considered for withdrawal will be far fewer than that, though no specific numbers have been mentioned.