Afghanistan Probe: ‘At Least 60 Civilians’ Killed after US Military Airstrikes on Alleged Drug Labs
9 Oct 2019 – “Multiple” airstrikes by the US military on alleged methamphetamine drug labs in a remote area of western Afghanistan earlier this year, killed or injured hundreds of civilians who should not have been treated as military targets, the UN said today.
In a special report into the impact of damage to more than 60 sites in Farah province’s Bakwa district and in neighbouring Delaram district on 5 May, investigators from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), verified 39 civilian casualties – 30 deaths, five injured and four “undetermined”. The toll included 14 children and one woman.
Together with the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) – which jointly produced the report – UNAMA said that it had also received reliable and credible reports of at least 37 further civilian casualties – 30 deaths and seven injured – the majority of whom were women and children.
“While some of the civilians killed or injured in the airstrikes were working in the drug labs, others – including women and children – were not,” the report said.
Homes ‘Are Not a Target’
There was no military advantage to be gained from the bombardment, it continued, pointing out that some of the buildings targeted – including family residences – had no apparent link to drug-making. Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly-addictive illegal stimulant that is typically manufactured in makeshift laboratories, using easily-available chemicals.
“UNAMA found that the civilian structures that were allegedly used as drug labs and were hit during the airstrikes did not have a sufficient nexus to the Taliban’s war-fighting operations to warrant their classification as military objectives,” the report stated, referring to the non-state armed group that has carried out years of deadly attacks on civilians.
Although the Taliban controls Bakwa district and uses drug-making facilities to fund its operations, the report noted that the drug production facilities targeted “were not controlled and operated exclusively by the Taliban, but rather they were owned and operated by criminal groups with connections to international drug trafficking networks”.
‘First Time Airstrikes Have Caused Mass Casualties’
In a statement calling for aerial bombardments that target drug facilities to stop, the UN mission and OHCHR noted that although the tactic was not new, “this was the first time that UNAMA had received reports of a large number of civilian casualties resulting from such an operation”.
According to the probe, the United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), assessed that there had been no civilian casualties in the airstrikes. This finding is in line with “longstanding United States policy” it said, which considers that economic objects that contribute to a party’s war effort are “legitimate military objectives”.
However, this is contrary to international humanitarian law, the report’s authors insisted, pointing out that drug facilities and people working there “may not be lawfully made the target of attack, and should be protected”.
On the issue of drug abuse in Afghanistan, the report acknowledges the growing threat posed by the methamphetamine industry and the “extreme and wide-ranging harm” to the country’s people and broader region of narcotics in general.
But as an alternative to airstrikes, the report suggests that the “appropriate and legal” response to illicit drug activity is through law enforcement, “not military operations that endanger civilians”.
Additional recommendations include an appeal to USFOR-A to conduct an independent and transparent investigation to examine the impact on civilians from the 5 May operation.
These findings should be made public, as well as measures taken to ensure accountability, as well as measures to provide “appropriate redress” to victims and their family members, the UN report urged.
Tags: Afghanistan, CIA, Central Asia, Conflict, European Union, Geopolitics, Hegemony, Human Rights, Imperialism, Indigenous Rights, International Relations, Justice, MATW, Military, NATO, Occupation, Pentagon, Politics, Power, Racism, Religion, Social justice, State Terrorism, Taliban, UN, USA, Violence, War, War on Terror, West, World
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Join the discussion!
We welcome debate and dissent, but personal — ad hominem — attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated. Nor will we tolerate attempts to deliberately disrupt discussions. We aim to maintain an inviting space to focus on intelligent interactions and debates.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- America, an Empire on Its Last Leg: To Be Kicked Out from the Middle East?
- How Democracies Die
- 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections: Reflections outside the Box
- Nepal: Inaugural Issue of “Social Inquiry” Published
- Afghan Children: Work of Necessity, Work of Choice
- Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires
- 'If You Are Wondering Who Benefits': Weapons Makers See Stocks Surge as Trump Moves Closer to War with Iran
- We Must Do More to Prevent Nuclear War
- The Fight to Expose Israel’s Arms Sales to the World’s Most Repressive Regimes