The Human Rights Watch office in Kabul released a report on Thursday referencing “summary executions” and “other grave abuses without accountability” by the CIA-backed Afghan forces in some parts of Afghanistan.
The report says “these strike forces have unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees, and attacked healthcare facilities for allegedly treating insurgent fighters.”
Based on the report, civilian casualties from these raids and air operations have dramatically increased in the last two years.
The 53-page report, “‘They’ve Shot Many Like This’: Abusive Night Raids by CIA-Backed Afghan Strike Forces,” documents 14 cases from late 2017 to mid-2019 claiming CIA-backed Afghan strike forces committed serious abuses, some amounting to war crimes.
The rights group calls on the US to work with the Afghan government to “immediately disband” and “disarm” all paramilitary forces.
“In ramping up operations against the Taliban, the CIA has enabled abusive Afghan forces to commit atrocities including extrajudicial executions and disappearances,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director and author of the report.
Gossman based her report on interviews with 39 residents and other witnesses to night raids in Ghazni, Helmand, Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Uruzgan, Wardak, and Zabul provinces, as well as with Afghan human rights groups that have documented these raids.
The report explains that in many of the night raids Human Rights Watch investigated, strike forces attacked civilians because of mistaken identity, poor intelligence, or political rivalries in the locality.
According to the report, a paramilitary unit killed eight men in Paktia province in August 2019 who were visiting their families for the Eid holidays and three others in the same village.
This comes as US Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), in a report published on Wednesday said civilian casualties attributed to Taliban forces more than tripled in the third quarter compared to the same period last year.
The SIGAR report said that with diplomacy failing, the conflict between the Afghan government forces, the Taliban and an offshoot of Daesh worsened. The report added that in the July-September period, the UN documented a 72 percent increase in civilian casualties because of improvised explosive devices compared to the same period in 2018.
Violence wasn’t limited to civilian targets. Attacks also increased against Afghan and coalition forces, with about half being considered “effective,” the SIGAR report said. The US-led military coalition reported a 19 percent increase in enemy-initiated attacks from June 1-August 31 compared to the same period last year. Effective enemy-initiated attacks increased 10 percent during the period compared to the same time last year, the report added.