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U.S., Afghanistan Investigating Reports Of Civilian Casualties In Kunduz

FILE: A protest against civilian casualties in Kunduz in November 2016.
FILE: A protest against civilian casualties in Kunduz in November 2016.

The U.S. military and Afghan authorities are investigating reports of civilian casualties caused by deadly air strikes in northern Afghanistan.

The U.S. military said it had launched a probe into what it described as a combined U.S.-Afghan operation in the northern province of Kunduz on November 3 and was assessing the facts surrounding the incident.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said it had tasked security commanders to probe reports of civilian casualties in the Chardara district in Kunduz, where the government said it had inflicted heavy losses on Taliban militants.

Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the ministry had not yet confirmed the death of any civilians in the air strikes.

Khosh Mohammad Nasratyar, a provincial council member, said 14 civilians were killed in the air strikes.

Another council member, Saifullah Amiri, a provincial council member, put the number even higher, at 22 civilians dead.

U.S. air strikes have intensified since U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for Afghanistan in August, which relaxed U.S. rules of engagement.

Civilian casualties from air strikes conducted by U.S. and Afghan forces increased by 52 percent in the first nine months of 2017, compared to 2016.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and Tolo News