Human Rights Watch - report on Afghanistan Aerial Bombing to kill civilians and children - Handle with Care
Human Rights Watch have produced and publisheed a report on aerial bombing in Afghanistan , which their Press release headlines - Afghanistan: Civilian Deaths From Airstrikes on the Rise - Airstrikes Cause Public Backlash, Undermine Protection Efforts
The 43-page report, “‘Troops in Contact’: Airstrikes and Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan,” analyzes the use of airstrikes by US and NATO forces and resulting civilian casualties, particularly when used to make up for the lack of ground troops and during emergency situations.
This report ( Cover design by Rafael Jimenez ) is based on research conducted by Michael Shaikh (whose role in reporting the death of Rachael Corrie is rather questionable) and Marc Garlasco, and was written by Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst for the Emergencies Program at Human Rights Watch. Readers will remember how accurate Mr Garlasco has been in examining cluster bombs in Georgia - i.e he got it completely fucking wrong. See Moon of Alabama here and links and post Friday, September 05, 2008 HRW report Cluster bomb use was right - they were used - but by the Georgians not the Russians and they were M85's of Israeli manufacture
There is a however a fancy database which is accessible and to some extent interactive which the user can examine aistrikes by location , tonnage and number. Presumably these figures rely entirely upon the US / NATO forces so great care should be taken in accepting them as accurate or even truthful. We have already pointed out that US Air Power summaries ceased on August 10th.It is of course impossible to check how accurate they were.
It is claimed in the report that planned attacks are very accurate and minimise civilian deaths - pp 33 et seq
Planned attacks allow the US and NATO to use civilian risk mitigation procedures,including formal risk estimates to model and minimize civilian casualties.....but
"US and NATO forces have been far more likely to cause civilian casualties in unplanned situations, normally when ground troops call in airstrikes as tactical support when under attack from insurgent forces, or to target insurgent forces on the move. The vast majority of known civilian deaths and injuries from airstrikes in Afghanistan come in these situations."
"civilian deaths from US and NATO airstrikes nearly tripled from 2006 to 2007 (from 116 to 321)"pp17.
"So far in 2008 there has been a return of high civilian deaths from airstrikes. This year (2008) at least 173 Afghan civilians have been killed in NATO and US operations. Of these, 119 died during US airstrikes, and 54 from fighting on the ground." pp18
"In close-quarter firefights where friendly soldiers could be wounded if bombs are used, cannon fire and missiles are often the preferred alternative." (Bruce Rolfsen, 'Afghanistan hit by record number of bombs,' Air Force Times, July 18th 2008,
However one views the HRW, this report provides some information which certainly supports the experience that both aerial boming is accelerating and civilian deaths are a major concern - but not to the US forces it seems. The most recent in Azizabad , Herat province 2 weeks ago that has a death toll mounting from 76 to over 90. This was a "planned" airstrike...apparently. Alastair Leithead of the the BBC reported on a previous wedding interrupted by 50 plus guests killed at Nangarhar.
HRW's last report in April - The Human Cost The Consequences of Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan was designed to show that Insurgents were killing civilians by their policy of bombing and suicide bombing ...it concluded..
"All parties to the current conflict in Afghanistan—government, international forces, and insurgents—have the duty to protect civilians from the effects of the armed conflict. This report details the costs of insurgents’ failure to meet that obligation."
Photographs such as the above were used to identify the harm caused .. something missing from this report.
See Some Matter More for a detailed and eloquent and angry response to media reporting of killing people by dropping bombs on them.When 47 victims are worth 43 words
Meanwhile STOP PRESS - ISLAMABAD: Fourteen people, including three women, were killed and 20 others injured in missile strikes by suspected unmanned US drones on a seminary Tanda Darpakhel, 2 kms from Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan which may have killed alleged Taliban Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani in North Waziristan tribal region on Monday..... six to seven missiles hit the seminary and nearby houses in the region ..... officials maintained that those killed were civilians, including women and children Haqqani and his sone Suraj are vetereans of the struggle against the Soviets but are said to hev been plotting to kill President Karzai.