Western Afghanistan Sees Reduction in Civilian Casualties
In western Afghanistan the incidence of civilian casualties due to combat operations is at an all time low. In every instance where a civilian casualty was caused by combat operations, it can be attributed to the violence of insurgents, according to statistics gathered by the U.S. Marine Special Operations Forces assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan. The numbers show fewer than 10 incidents of ISAF caused civilian casualties occurred in western Afghanistan since January 2010.
"This low number of civilian casualties is a direct result of Afghan and international forces conducting aggressive and safe operations in the area," said Maj. Paul Oliver, a CJSOTF-A spokesperson.
"Their actions show the concern they have for the safety of innocent civilians, as well as their strength as a fighting force out west."
In a recently intercepted message from Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban movement, several themes emerged involving civilian casualties.
Omar provided guidance to Taliban members urging them to capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and or working for coalition forces or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He also urged the murder of any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces.
"We believe this guidance provides important insight into recent events," said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesperson. "The Taliban are causing an alarmingly high number of civilian casualties, and they have also begun attacking those who have chosen to serve the people of Afghanistan as public servants."
Article released by ISAF Joint Command
The decrease in civilian casualties caused by Afghan and coalition forces in western Afghanistan does not indicate a reduction in the number of missions conducted throughout the West.
Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition forces are conducting missions and security patrols with an intense focus on engaging the people and securing their future, according to Oliver.
"Unlike the Taliban whose senseless violence deliberately causes civilian casualties," Oliver said, "we do our best to avoid non-combatant casualties. Ultimately it's the insurgents whose intent it is to drag Afghanistan back several centuries into chaos."
Coalition officials emphasize the genuine desire by ISAF service members to work alongside Afghan forces and assist Afghans.
"In our area of responsibility, all of our operations are population centric," said a Special Operations Task Force commander.
"It is our goal to provide stability and security that will ultimately lead to development and greater governance."