The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan has launched investigations into a deadly U.S. air raid two days ago that claimed at least 30 lives.
Maj. Bariki Mallya, spokesman for the mission, told Anadolu Agency the air raid in Garmsir district of Helmand province was carried out by the U.S. forces on the request of Afghan troops chasing Taliban rebels armed with heavy machine guns.
“In self-defense, the ground force called an air strike. After the strike, there were secondary explosions inside a compound. At the time of the strike, the ground force was unaware of any civilians in or around the compound; they only knew that the Taliban were using the building as a fighting position,” he said.
He added that the Taliban continue to use civilians, especially children, as a human shield.
There has been growing resentment among the population towards such incidents described as 'collateral damage' by the warring sides.
Noor Ullah, a resident of the district, told Anadolu Agency on the phone that two elderly men, four women and a number of minor children lost their lives in this air strike.
On Wednesday, local broadcaster Tolo News reported that at least 30 people, including women and children, were killed in the air raid. Provincial authorities claimed 15 Taliban were killed in the incident.
This is the second incident of the sort in the same province. Earlier this week, a similar air and ground operation left 16 people, mostly children, wounded in the Baba Ji area of Helmand.
Civilian casualties in air raids have shown a steep surge, rising 52 percent in the first six months of 2018 compared to last year, according to the UN Mission in Afghanistan.
Some 149 civilians were killed and 200 injured in the first half of 2018, the mission said.