On Thursday, the United Nations condemned the killing of at least 15 civilians by a U.S. drone strike in the Nangarhar province of eastern Afghanistan, and called for an independent investigation to be initiated.
From a U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) press release:
In the early morning of 28 September, an international military forces unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an airstrike, reportedly targeting members of ISIL/Daesh, that struck a civilian home killing the 15 civilians.
The civilians had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of tribal elder from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred. Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families …
All killed were men, with a total of 13 others — including a child — wounded.
The UNAMA condemned the strike, and reiterated “the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law” before calling for a “prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident.”
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed via press release on September 28 that it was, in fact, the United States who ordered the strike, calling Nangarhar province “a focus for Daesh activity since 2015,” and claiming the area is used “to train, equip, disseminate propaganda, and expand their control over innocent Afghans.”
CENTCOM declined to comment further on Wednesday’s strike, stating:
We won’t discuss the details of the specific counter-terrorism operation conducted in Nangarhar on 28 September because we are still reviewing all materials related to the strike. We take every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties in these operations, and will continue to work with Afghan authorities to determine if there is cause for additional investigation as we partner with the Afghan government in the broader fight against terrorism.
Casualties of war, and such.
The news comes as the latest in a rash of recent blunders carried out by the United States in the Middle East, both militarily and diplomatically.
Less than two weeks ago, a U.S.-led coalition airstrike killed 62 Syrian soldiers, purportedly due to bad intel. Days after that, following an attack on a U.N. aid convoy, the U.S. immediately dumped the whole of the blame on Russia — but was forced to back off that accusation after Russia began questioning the validity of the attack.