Hundreds of civilian deaths by bombs and missiles dropped on Afghanistan by U.S. and NATO forces increased sharply after peace talks involving President Hamid Karzai began in 2012, according to data that a spokesman for the coalition said was limited to 18 of more than 18,000 U.S. and NATO airstrikes launched during that time.
An analysis of data submitted to the Pentagon from Air Force and U.S. Central Command “strike response officers” estimated that these officers launched 870 attacks that resulted in more than 1,400 civilians deaths in the year after U.S. talks began, a number more than three times as high as the 275 civilians killed by strikes during the year of the previous talks.
U.S. officials said that the number of airstrikes that killed civilians was falling after the start of peace talks.
“I’ve always taken the opposite position, that we can reduce civilian casualties when we are involved in peace talks,” Army Col. Thomas F. Veale, a military spokesman, said. “I’m not aware of statistics, I’m not aware of incidents, but this strikes to me as an outcome of peace talks.”
The briefing on the data by Col. Veale and another U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Stephane Jaubert, came in response to questions from lawmakers after an email by Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, about the increase in civilian casualties during peace talks.