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Violence reduction key to lessen civilian casualties: US

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KABUL: After a watchdog blamed foreign forces for spike in civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the US forces has said the best way to reduce civilian casualties is to reduce violence.

A US forces spokesman said, “We are committed to reducing violence in accordance with the will of the Afghan people; these actions must be reciprocated by all parties – pointless ongoing violence will not go unchecked or unanswered.”

“We do everything possible to avoid unnecessary human suffering and damage to civilian infrastructure, to include adherence to a strict, deliberate targeting process,” the spokesman added.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its World Report 2020 recently said that attacks by all parties to Afghanistan’s armed conflict in 2019 took a “devastating toll” on civilians.

The report said that for the first time the deaths caused by the Afghan government and United States operations exceeded those caused by the Taliban in the first half of 2019, largely due to a sharp increase in US airstrikes.

“The Taliban carried out indiscriminate attacks, particularly before the September presidential elections, that killed and injured hundreds of civilians,” the report said.

“As fighting has dragged on, all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan have shown a blatant disregard for the laws of war and have caused appalling civilian harm,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at HRW.

“However, peace talks play out in 2020, the lives of ordinary Afghans will depend on the warring parties making a commitment to protect civilians and uphold human rights,” the report said.

In the 652-page World Report 2020, its 30th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries.

Throughout 2019, Afghan women’s rights groups and other activists called for broad representation of Afghans in the talks with the Taliban, and for preserving human rights protections, including constitutional guarantees on women’s equality, according to the report.

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