U. S. Escalating Afghan War

November 26, 2006

On November 17, the New York Times reported that the number of U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan has risen dramatically during the past six months.

Since June, U.S. warplanes have carried out 2,095 attacks throughout the country, mostly in the south. Attacks by B-1 bombers, AC-130 gunships, and A-10 attack jets are being used frequently to support ground troops engaged in fierce combat with Afghan resistance fighters.

The amount of munitions used has "also risen substantially," according to the article. Bombers and fighter planes have dropped nearly 1,000 bombs and fired more than 146,000 cannon rounds and bullets in strafing runs during this period - more than the entire amount used from 2001-2004.

The number of civilians killed during these strikes is also on the rise. Two months ago, for example, a nighttime NATO air attack involving an AC-130 gunship killed 31 civilians.

On October 30, "Human Rights Watch" also condemned the escalating violence, saying "more than 60 civilians were killed this week in heavy fighting between NATO forces and insurgent forces in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. NATO has admitted that at least 12 civilians were killed in NATO air and ground operations in Panjwai. Another two dozen were reportedly killed last week during clashes in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province, during which NATO used heavy aerial bombardment."

Sam Zarifi, Human Rights Watch's Asia research director, denounced recent NATO attacks saying "NATO's tactics are increasingly endangering the civilians...[and] NATO can't simply state that it didn't know civilians were present, or that they assumed all civilians had fled the area...Under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, armed forces must not target civilians."

On October 27, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also issued a statement saying NATO "aerial bombardment and ground offensives in populated rural areas...have significantly increased the number of innocent civilians killed, injured or displaced."

In addition, other human rights groups, such as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, recently issued statements condemning the escalating attacks by U.S.-NATO forces. Since the beginning of the U.S. invasion in 2001, thousands of Afghan people have been killed, including an untold number of civilians. Numerous atrocities, such as the saturated bombing of civilian population centers, massacres at wedding ceremonies, market-center bombings, etc., have been repeatedly carried out by the U.S. military.