US Airstrike that Killed 33 Afghan Civilians Was Justifiable, Say US Forces

The US-led operation that killed 33 civilians and wounded 27 in Boz Village (Northern Afghanistan) last November was an act of self-defense, says a report published by US Forces-Afghanistan on Thursday.

The report describes the events like this: On November 2nd and 3rd, US and Afghan forces were conducting a joint operation in Boz to capture Taliban leaders when they found themselves under fire coming from civilian houses. US Forces came to their assistance with aerial strikes on those Taliban-occupied houses, killing 33 civilians and “approximately 26 Taliban, including three leaders.” Two American soldiers and three Afghan soldiers also died in the operation.

“The investigation concluded that US forces acted in self-defense, in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict, and in accordance with all applicable regulations and policy,” states the report. “It has been determined that no further action will be taken.”

“Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives,” assured the Commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, in a press release.

Charles H Cleveland, a spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan, while also deploring civilian casualties, said this to Al-Jazeera: “[Boz] is not a normal village. There are a lot of Taliban fighters there. However, the only real solution to prevent civilian casualties is for the Taliban to not hide behind civilians.”

According to the same Al-Jazeera article, residents of Boz have expressed doubts about the number of Taliban fighters present. “We don’t even know if the Taliban were actually killed in this attack. All we saw were dead bodies of the innocent people,” said one.

The operation in Boz happened a little over a year after American airstrikes destroyed a Doctors Without Borders Hospital in the nearby city of Kunduz, killing 42 patients and staff members. The Kunduz bombing was one of the only instances where US military forces publicly admitted they had made a mistake. President Obama issued a rare formal apology for it on October 7th 2015.

The bombing of a hospital, if established as deliberate, is considered a war crime by international laws. The results of the UN investigation on the matter are awaited in the next month.

* Featured image via Sputnik News

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