A malfunction during a US airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan has resulted in civilian casualties.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was visiting the region when the incident occurred. The US forces had responded to a series of militant attacks on the Kabul airport.
After the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, the United States made the decision to wage a war in Afghanistan. The country noted that it wanted to root out terror groups, especially Taliban, from the region. It is the longest war in the history of the United States. Former President Barack Obama during his first Presidential campaign vowed to put an end to the Afghanistan war. However, he was ultimately unsuccessful in ensuring that. The US has not been able to definitively defeat the Taliban forces. By certain accounts, the Taliban insurgency has gotten even stronger in the recent years.
The US has spent $850 billion on this war and about 2,400 members of the armed forces have been killed from 2011 to early 2017. The US backed Afghanistan government has also not been able to assert its influence on the citizens and on the Taliban militants.
Afghanistan is one of the most unstable regions in the world. Kabul in particular has regularly shaken by suicide bomb attacks. There has been unrelenting violence in Afghanistan, where at least 1,662 civilians were killed in the first half of the year.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is currently on a visit to Afghanistan. The visit was to demonstrate US support for the government in Afghanistan. However, merely hours after he reached Kabul, militants and suicide bombers attacked the Kabul airport. Taliban and ISIS have both claimed responsibility for the attacks and further clarification is not available currently.
In order to respond to these attacks, the US conducted airstrikes. However, there was reportedly a malfunction during the airstrike and that resulted in civilian casualties.
A statement from NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan read, “During a failed attack today, insurgents fired several rounds of high-explosive ammunition, including mortars, into the vicinity of Hamid Karzai International Airport and detonated suicide vests endangering a great number of civilians. The Afghan Crisis Response Unit 222 responded quickly to confront the attackers and end the assault. US forces acting in support conducted an airstrike. Tragically, one of the missiles malfunctioned, causing several casualties.”
Officials have noted that an investigation is currently underway. The Afghan ministry had earlier reported that the attackers along with one person have been killed in the incident. 11 others have been wounded. There no details on whether the civilian death was caused by the malfunction or by the militant attack.
Our assessment is that the tragic incident highlights the dangers posed even in high tech military equipment deployed in conflict. There is a push in Washington for a more aggressive US policy advocating for more airstrikes. The latest incident highlights the civilian lives that are endangered in such vulnerable regions in the world. Additionally, it also overshadowed the purpose of Mattis’ visit to the nation.