Reports from the Afghan government and the International Committee of the Red Cross are confirming earlier reports that 120 civilians were killed in air strikes on villages in Afghanistan’s Farah province on May 4. According to the Red Cross, the dead included women and children.
The United States has “apologized” for the loss of life–through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton–who appeared with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in Washington. Clinton said that the United States will work with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan “to avoid the loss of innocent life and we deeply, deeply regret that loss.” Hamid Karzai says he plans to raise the issue when he meets with President Barack Obama.
The United States and Afghanistan are promising to investigate the incident.
However, the U.S. military is already suggesting that it may not have been air strikes that killed the civilians. General David McKiernan expressed doubts Wednesday saying that the deaths may have been the work of Taliban forces. Other military officials have indicated that they “will do everything in our power to remunerate the losses and provide assistance to the families if there is evidence of civilian casualties.”
If the death toll is confirmed, it would be one of the highest since the United States’ 2001 invasion. Deaths from air strikes have been partially responsible for a dramatic increase in civilian deaths in recent years. These deaths have contributed to growing friction between Afghan civilians and the United States’ troops occupying the country.