The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a report on Wednesday claiming that at least 30 civilians were killed and 9 were wounded in US airstrikes in Farah province targeting drug-processing facilities.
14 women and children were among the casualties, according to the UNAMA report, which stated: “Although airstrikes on alleged drug-processing facilities had taken place before, this was the first time that UNAMA had received reports of a large number of civilian casualties resulting from such an operation.”
On May 5, the Afghan Ministry of Interior, reporting on the Farah attacks, claimed “150 Taliban were killed and 40 were wounded,” and on Wednesday, spokespeople for the US Forces in Afghanistan issued a response to the UNAMA report stating concerns with “the way UNAMA reached its conclusions,” and disagreeing with UNAMA’s “mischaracterization of the Taliban in the methamphetamine production facilities.” USFOR-A stated that based on “US legal definitions” it considered that “personnel in the labs were members of the Taliban and lawful military targets.”
The UN report acknowledged that “according to longstanding US policy, economic objects that contribute to the war effort of a party to a conflict are considered legitimate military objectives” but challenged this policy, invoking “international humanitarian law, including international customary law” to declare that “drug facilities and associated workers may not be lawfully made the target of attack and should be protected.”
The USFOR-A response criticized the UN report’s “reliance on sources with conflicted motives or limited knowledge (including the Taliban propaganda website “Voice of Jihad”); and their narrow definition of legally targetable combatants.”
“Intelligence and operations professionals knew what the Taliban narcotics production facilities looked like, exactly where they were, and who was allowed entry,” the USFOR-A report claimed, insisting that “USFOR-A took extraordinary measures to avoid the deaths or injuries of non-combatants.”