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Report blames Trump’s Administration for 330% increase in civilian casualties

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2020)

Outgoing President Donald Trump’s decision in 2017 to loosen military rules of engagement in Afghanistan that were meant to protect civilians was followed by a sharp increase in civilian deaths, a report released on Monday revealed.

The report by Brown University Watson Institute’s Costs of War Project, one of the premier authorities on civilian casualties in the 19-year-long war, found a 330 percent increase in the number of Afghan civilians killed by US-led airstrikes from 2016, the final year of the Barack Obama administration, to 2019.

Author of the report, Neta C. Crawford, said: “Some of this harm could be avoided by tighter rules of engagement, as well as better training. A negotiated ceasefire might also yield results at the bargaining table and at the same time avoid escalating harm to Afghan civilians from airstrikes.”

From 2007 to 2016, US-led and Afghan government forces killed an average of 582 civilians each year, the report found.

From 2017 to 2019, during Trump’s tenure, those same forces killed an average of 1,134 civilians each year, a nearly 95 percent increase.

The sharp increase in civilian deaths followed a decision by Trump, in consultation with former Defense Secretary James Mattis and other military and civilian officials, to relax rules of engagement in the Afghan war in order to give US commanders more battlefield flexibility and to gain leverage at the bargaining table with the Taliban.

“From 2017 through 2019, civilian deaths due to US and allied forces’ airstrikes in Afghanistan dramatically increased,” the report states.

“In 2019 airstrikes killed 700 civilians – more civilians than in any other year since the beginning of the war in 2001 and 2002. After the US and Taliban reached a peace agreement in late February 2020, US and other international air strikes declined, and so did the harm to civilians caused by those strikes.”

According to the United Nations, US-led and Afghan government airstrikes killed more civilians than did Taliban militant attacks during the first half of 2019.

The new report found that as US-led bombings declined following the agreement reached with the Taliban in February 2020, Afghan government airstrikes have increased.

“As a consequence, the Afghan Air Force (AAF) is harming more Afghan civilians than at any time in its history,” the report states.

“In the first six months of this year, the AAF killed 86 Afghan civilians and injured 103 civilians in airstrikes. That rate of harm nearly doubled in the next three months. Between July and the end of September, the Afghan Air Force killed 70 civilians and 90 civilians were injured.”

“As with the international airstrikes, some of this harm could be avoided by tighter rules of engagement, as well as better training,” the report states.
The report also highlights the fact that a reduction or even total withdrawal of US ground troops does not mean an end to war or civilian casualties, as most American combat is one-sided and takes place in the air.

The report also states that there were more weapons dropped from the air in 2018 and 2019 than at the height of US presence in Afghanistan in 2011.

According to the Costs of War Project report, more than 43,000 Afghan civilians have been killed during the 19-year US-led war.

While Taliban insurgents have killed the most civilians, thousands of men, women, and children have also been killed by US, allied, and Afghan government bombs and bullets, the report states.

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97 people wounded after train derails in Egypt

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(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)

Ninety-seven people were injured on Sunday (April 18) when four train carriages derailed in Egypt’s Qalioubia province north of Cairo, the health ministry said in a statement.

Two security sources and local media reported that several people had been killed in the accident, but there was no official confirmation.

Officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The train was heading from Cairo to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura and derailed at 13.54 local time (11:54 GMT), about 40 kilometres north of Cairo, Egyptian National Railways said in a short statement.

The cause of the accident is being investigated, it added.

More than 50 ambulances took the injured to three hospitals in the province, the health ministry said.

The derailing is the latest of several recent railway crashes in Egypt. At least 20 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in March when two trains collided near Tahta, about 440 km (275 miles) south of Cairo.

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Eight family members killed during Tarawih prayers in Nangarhar

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(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)

Eight members of a family were killed by unknown armed men during Tarawih prayers in eastern Nangarhar province, sources said Sunday.

According to the sources, the incident took place inside a mosque in the Saracha Alikhan area in PD9 of the provincial capital Jalalabad city on Saturday evening.

At least eight members of a family were killed and one more wounded in the shooting, sources added.

So far, the motives behind the attack are not cleared.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, however, stated that the incident happened due to personal dispute over land.

Khogyani added that police have begun investigations.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Foreign envoys trying to persuade Taliban to attend Turkey Conference

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(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)

Sources from the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) said on Sunday that envoys from the United Nations, U.S, Turkey, and Qatar in Doha are trying to convince the Taliban to attend the upcoming Istanbul Conference.

Following the announcement that all foreign troops will be out of Afghanistan by September and not May 1 as per the US-Taliban agreement signed in February last year, the Taliban said it will not participate in any conference on Afghanistan’s future until there has been a full withdrawal of all foreign forces.

On Sunday, Hajji Din Mohammad, the deputy head of the HCNR said UN and US envoys “have no meeting with us [Afghan delegation], they have put in efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Turkey.”

“Taliban believe that the Doha deal has been violated by the US and therefore, they will not participate in any meeting,” said Mawalwi Qalamuddin, a politician.

The HCNR meanwhile said that they are working to finalize their list of participants for the Istanbul Conference.

“Preparations have been made for the Istanbul Conference and the agenda will be finalized soon,” said Faridon Khawzon, a spokesman for the HCNR.

Analysts however believe that the opportunity for peace will be missed if the Taliban does not attend the Istanbul Conference.

“The Taliban and government should try their best to reach peace, and should not miss this opportunity,” said Aziz Maharaj, an international relations analyst.

The HCNR says that Afghan negotiators are in contact with the Taliban in Doha to discuss related issues about peace.

Mohammad Naeem, the group’s Qatar-based spokesman announced last week that the group would not attend the Turkey Conference until all troops had left.

“Until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland, the Islamic Emirate will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan,” Naeem tweeted.

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