Taliban blames US, Afghan forces for most civilian casualties in 2018

KABUL: The Taliban blamed US and Afghan forces for almost 90 per cent of civilian casualties in 2018, in a report released Friday that suggested Afghanistan’s largest militant group was not responsible for a single death or injury.

The data — which NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan dismissed as “propaganda” — follows a record year of bloodshed in the Afghan war, which by some estimates overtook Syria as the world’s deadliest conflict zone.

The figures, which the Taliban release every year and are based on “witnesses and primary sources”, showed a total of 4,170 civilian casualties — 2,294 deaths and 1,876 wounded — last year.

US and “stooge” Afghan government forces caused 3,705 casualties, while the Islamic State group and other “unknown” entities were responsible for 465, the Taliban claimed.

Rejecting the figures, Resolute Support said the Taliban continued “to inflict great harm on Afghan civilians”.

“Over the last few months alone, the Taliban has carried out a host of atrocities against their own countrymen,” the NATO mission said in a statement.

The Taliban’s total number of civilian casualties is around half the number reported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for the first nine months of 2018.

UNAMA’s last report in October found the majority of civilian casualties were caused by militants, including the Taliban. Its full-year tally is expected to be released next month.

The Taliban’s report omitted a number of major attacks that deliberately targeted civilians and were claimed by the group.

They included a bomb-laden ambulance that detonated in a crowded street in Kabul last January, killing more than 100 people and wounding hundreds more.

The Taliban also carried out a devastating raid on a luxury hotel in the Afghan capital in the same month that killed at least 25 people.

And the group has been widely blamed for last month’s attack on a government compound in Kabul that killed more than 40.

The Taliban’s report comes as international efforts to convince the militants to end the 17-year war gather pace, even as US President Donald Trump moves to slash the number of American troops in Afghanistan and the militants slaughter Afghan forces in record numbers.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]