US troops Afghanistan 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Afghanistan — The number of civilians killed so far this year in
reached 1,074 as escalating violence is now the worst since the early
months of the nearly 9-year-old war, an Afghan rights group said Monday.RELATED:
However, the share of civilians killed by international forces is dropping — and the number dying in NATO air-strikes has halved — thanks to restrictive rules of engagement issued last year, the Afghanistan Rights Monitor said.
Petraeus to ease war rules
40 killed at
Despite speculation that newly arrived coalition commander Gen. David
Petraeus would change the policy, which critics say increases danger to
American and other foreign troops, a NATO spokesman reiterated over the
weekend that would not happen.
Violence has soared across Afghanistan in recent months, as 30,000 more
US troops arrived to bolster the international force. The reinforcements
are moving into Taliban strongholds in the south and east of the
country to try to strengthen Afghan government control, and insurgents
have responded with a wave of ambushes, suicide attacks, roadside bombs
The war's escalation has taken a huge toll on the Afghan people, with
212 civilians killed last month alone, said Ajmal Samadi, director of
the independent Afghanistan Rights Monitor, which compiled its
statistics from interviews with witnesses, families of victims, local
officials and media reports.
The group, which is supported by private donations, recorded 1,200
violent incidents in June, the highest number in any single month since
"In terms of insecurity," it said in a new report, "2010 has been the
worst year since the demise of the Taliban regime."
Last month was also the deadliest of the war for coalition forces, with
103 international troops killed, 60 of them American.
The majority of the civilians killed so far this year — 61 percent —
died in insurgent attacks, particularly from roadside bombs the Taliban
plant across the country, said the group.
"What we are concerned about is that with the arrival of Gen. Petraeus
... those measures might be changed in a way that would allow
international forces to use more firepower," Samadi said. "Then you
could be back in a situation where more civilians could die."
The rules are unpopular among many, including some troops who believe
they cost American lives and force them to give up the advantage of
overwhelming firepower to a foe who shoots and melts back into the
NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, however, stressed that Petraeus
is committed to the current rules of engagement.
"Our strategic imperative to reduce civilian casualties has not and will
not change," he told reporters Sunday.