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US forces investigate civilian casualties in Kunduz

AT-KABUL: US Forces in Afghanistan have opened an investigation into the alleged civilian casualties during an airstrike by the American air force in Chahar-Dara district of northern Kunduz province of the country.

“U.S. Forces-Afghanistan is conducting an investigation into allegations of civilian casualties following U.S. airstrikes in defense of Afghan forces during Afghan-led ground offensive operations in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province on July 19” American forces press office in Kabul said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

An alleged US-Afghan airstrike on July 19, targeting a house in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz, allegedly killed 14 civilian, according to Kunduz governor office. But the US forces that time rejected to have conducted any strike in the area.

But continued criticism from the locals and politicians including former president Hamid Karzai apparently after six days of refusal pushed the US military to open an investigation into the civilian casualties in the airstrike which they initially rejected.

“An investigation is underway,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson. “While an on-the-ground assessment conducted by Afghan forces immediately following the strikes revealed no indications the strikes caused civilian casualties, we are investigating the incident and subsequent claims further” he said.

Civilian casualties had been the main source of disagreement between the previous government, under Hamid Karzai, and international forces in the ongoing war.

But the government of National Unity has shown a flexibly to the US forces claims of civilian casualties and have not so far publicly criticized the foreign troops for the bombing which caused civilian casualties.

However, after the strike the army officials said at least 15 Taliban fighter were killed in the strike which was called in by the Afghan commandos against a building from where they were receiving shoots of   small arms.

Footage and pictures taken from the site of the bombing and published on social media by the residents were showing apparently a house completely destroyed by the airstrike.

However, Martin explained US Forces in Afghanistan “takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and is working closely with the Afghan government and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to determine the facts surrounding this incident.”

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