The US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on Thursday morning that the last 24 hours have been "very violent" with “many losing their lives.”
Khalilzad condemned the Afghan airstrike in Herat, saying photos and eyewitness accounts suggest "many civilians including children" were killed.
“The Afghan people want an immediate start of peace negotiations and a settlement that is in their best interest. More graves will not bring negotiations forward,” Khalilzad said, adding: “We urge all sides to contain the violence, protect civilians, and show necessary restraint as the start of intra-Afghan negotiations is so close.
A local official in Herat said that on Wednesday, at least 45 Taliban including their local commanders were killed in an airstrike in Herat province and others were wounded.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) released a video of the airstrike in Herat, saying that a group of Taliban had been killed in the attack, but the accuracy of the video has not been confirmed by independent sources.
“I hope there were no civilian casualties there, but the presence of the enemy and the casualties of the enemy will also be shown,” said Asadullah Khalid, acting defense minister.
But Abdullah, one of the victims of the airstrike in Adraskan district of Herat, said that civilians were targeted when they went to visit a "Taliban prisoner" who was recently released from the government prison in the "Kham Ziarat" area of Adrasgan district.
“We were eating breakfast when the plane attacked us, and I was wounded, and several people were martyred. We took the wounded and transferred them to the city, and there was no Taliban presence,” said Abdullah, one of the wounded.
“A member of the Taliban, Qari Ghulam Nabi, who had just been released from Bagram prison, had a gathering where people came to greet him. five civilians and the Taliban were killed in the airstrikes on the gathering,” said Wakil Ahmad Karkhi, head of Herat's provincial council's security committee.
The regional office of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Herat also expressed concern about civilian casualties, especially women and children.
“In this attack, civilians suffered--including women and children--and this shows that in this attack, civilians suffered, and a violation was committed,” said Abdul Qadir Rahimi, head of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission in Herat.
“Afghanistan's intelligence agencies and the military, air force and artillery must work to prevent civilian casualties in their attacks,” said Mohammad Naeem Ghayour, a military analyst in Herat.
The Taliban, meanwhile, mentioned two airstrikes in Guzara district, saying no members of the group have been killed in the attacks but civilians were killed in the strikes.
Yesterday, Jelani Farhad, the Herat governor's spokesman, said that the strike was conducted in the Zeyart Kham area of Guzara district of Herat province.
Based on preliminary information, those reportedly killed were: "Abdullah Akbari, Mawolavi Haidar, Mullah Rahmatullah, Zabiullah Akbari, Mullah Mohammad--known as Idres--and Mullah Abdulhaq--known us Osama." They are said to have been the Taliban local commanders for Guzara, Adraksan, and Pashton Zarghon districts of Herat province.
According to Farhad, the commanders were gathered and making plans to attack government installations and to conduct attacks in Herat city when they were targeted in the airstrike.
Several other Taliban were also wounded in the strike and also their weapon caches were destroyed, Farhad said.
Yesterday the residents claimed that at least eight civilians were killed and nearly 20 others were wounded in the airstrike attack, which they say targeted a wedding party.
A number of witnesses and wounded in the incident say that the aircraft also targeted those who were fleeing the area after bombing the wedding ceremony.
Women and children are also among the dead and wounded, residents said.