The Evidence So Far

According to the interim report of a US Central Command team investigating allegations of civilian deaths as a result of close air support air strikes during coalition and Afghan National Army operations May 4 in Farah province, the team has seen video footage that clearly shows enemy forces entering the targeted buildings and heard audio tapes confirming insurgents regrouped in several small buildings that subsequently were destroyed. The team, which is still investigating, has not been able to determine the exact number of civilian and insurgent casualties. It estimates 60 to 65 Taliban extremists were killed and 20 to 30 civilians may have been killed during the fighting. Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticized the airstrikes for reportedly killing hundreds of innocent civilians. US and coalition officials had directed the air support only after a superior Taliban force appeared poised to overrun Afghan and coalition ground forces during a firefight. US officials have maintained that the Taliban actively tries to use civilians as human shields and that ending close air support would hamper coalition operations in Afghanistan. (AFPS release)