US Afghan air strike report delayed

Civilian deaths report set to review air power use when targeting the Taliban.

    Civilians were killed during US air raids in the Afghan province of Farah in May [EPA]

    The US military says about 30 civilians and 60 to 65 Taliban fighters were killed during the operations.

    Report recommendations

    Officials have already said some mistakes were made and that procedures were not strictly followed in the operation.

    The US is sent to send thousands more troops
    to Afghanistan [Reuters]
    But Admiral Mike Mullen, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday he had seen nothing in the investigation that seems to warrant disciplinary action against the US forces involved.

    The report, details of which have been leaked to the US media, is also set to urge a review of the use of air support when targeting Taliban fighters after mounting civilian casualties provoked outrage in Afghanistan.

    It also recommends that US forces sent to Afghanistan should receive training in the kinds of scenarios they could face, including situations that have resulted in civilian deaths, one official told the Associated Press.

    Periodic refresher training throughout soldiers' tours of duty in the war zone, is also set to be recommended by the report.

    The review said the early May air raids were carried out against Taliban targets in Farah but that, at least in one case, it was unclear whether civilians were in the vicinity.

    Bombing 'delayed'

    In one incident, an Air Force B-1 dropped a 900kg bomb on a building that Taliban fighters had been seen entering, officials say.

    Some military officials have questioned whether that bomb was larger and more destructive than warranted, the Associated Press reported.

    Afghans have expressed outrage at
    civilian deaths from US bombing [Reuters]
    The air crew received permission to strike, but circled around and dropped the bomb without reconfirming, the report is set to say.

    That delay, officials said, may have allowed the fighters to leave the building and civilians to enter before the bomb was dropped.

    It is not known whether that raid added to the civilian toll, officials have said.

    Officials said the report does not recommend changes in tactics and procedures used in Afghanistan, though the new commander there, Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal, has said he will review them as well as all existing rules of engagement.

    The US government has come under increasing criticism over the past year for civilian deaths during operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Barack Obama, the US president, and other Washington officials have repeatedly expressed regret for civilian casualties and vowed to take measures that would avoid future attacks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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