Pentagon refutes Afghan civilian casualty claims

Pentagon refutes Afghan civilian casualty claims
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The Pentagon is disputing reports that numerous civilians were killed in an eastern Afghanistan airstrike on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants.

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan on Friday said a U.S. airstrike “killed a number of militants and destroyed their vehicle in the Haska Mena district of eastern Nangarhar Province on the evening of August 10,” according to a statement. 

“There was zero chance of civilian casualties,” the statement adds.

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The New York Times reported earlier Friday that Afghan officials said U.S. aircraft killed 16 civilians as they tried to flee the area.

Hajji Saz Wali, governor of Haska Meena, said the victims included women and children.

But U.S. Forces-Afghanistan asserts “this is the second false claim of civilian casualties in the same district within the last three weeks.”

“The militants were observed loading weapons into a vehicle and were under surveillance until the vehicle was destroyed by an airstrike,” said spokesman Bob Purtiman. “The strike was conducted in the middle of open terrain. There was zero chance of civilian casualties.” 

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan “takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously; reviewing each case fully,” and “take every precaution to conduct all operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties."