At least 13 civilians were killed, mostly children, in an airstrike by “international forces” in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz late last week, the United Nations said Monday, March 25.
The strike happened between late Friday and early Saturday in support of ground operations conducted by pro-government forces fighting against Taliban militants in the Telawka neighborhood.
“Initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country,” the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.
“Work is ongoing to verify all civilian casualties that occurred during military operations that were conducted around the time of the airstrike,” UNAMA said.
The U.S. is the only member of the international coalition in Afghanistan that provides air support in the conflict.
A NATO spokesperson told AFP the coalition was investigating the claims.
Two U.S. soldiers were also killed in Kunduz on March 22, the Pentagon announced late last week, but it is unclear whether the two events were part of the same operation.
The deaths come as ordinary Afghans continues to bear the brunt of the war in Afghanistan, with more civilians killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record, according to a U.N. report.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians,” according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State Khorasan province.
An increase in air strikes by U.S. and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record.”
Fighting continues to flare across Afghanistan even as the U.S. and Taliban press forward in peace talks aimed at ending nearly 18 years of fighting.
The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan.
According to the U.N., at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade.
With reporting from AFP