It has been nearly 18 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan, with the goal of defeating the Taliban. But now, a new report has revealed that in 2019, the US and its allies have actually killed more civilians than the terrorist group they promised to overthrow.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, while civilian deaths caused by anti-government elements dropped 43 percent to 531 in the first half of 2019, deaths caused by pro-government forces increased 31 percent to 717.
This is the second quarter in a row that the US and its allies have killed more civilians than the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the area—leaving concern that 2019 could top 2018 as the worst year for civilian casualties on record.
The ongoing violence has also a had a devastating impact on the children of Afghanistan, with the report noting that child casualties represented nearly one-third of all civilian casualties in 2019, and children continue to make up 84 percent of all civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war.
The UN’s deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, noted that hundreds of thousands of civilians are also suffering as a result of being displaced from their homes.
“In 2018, the country suffered the highest number of civilian casualties since UNAMA began recording figures in 2009,” Mohammed said. “In the first five months of this year, more than 100,000 people were displaced by conflict, and we know displacement increases the risk of gender-based violence in all areas.”
The death toll also includes American troops. And Central Command confirmed Monday that two US soldiers were shot and killed by a soldier from Afghanistan.
But President Trump wants to move forward with pulling troops out of the country, according to his top officials, who have claimed Trump plans to reduce combat troops in Afghanistan, ahead of the 2020 election.
However, Former Pentagon Official Michael Maloof argued that the US will never truly be out of Afghanistan, because they see it as a strategic military base to influence the region.
“He may give the impression that he is cutting back U.S. troop presence, but we’ll fill that with private military contractors,” Maloof said. “Afghanistan is a very strategic point for the United States, not only because ISIS wants to attack the United States, but also the United States uses Afghanistan as a platform to look, to watch Iran.”
As the devastating number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan continue, reports have also shown that the Taliban is stronger now than it was when the war began—raising questions about whether the longest war in US history will come to an end anytime soon.