By Marine Corps Sgt. Brian Kester, Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command Public Affairs
KABUL, Afghanistan (NNS) -- As of July 2010, the number of combat-related civilian casualties in western Afghanistan are at an all time low, and the Sailors and Marines with the Marine Corps special operations teams (MSOTs) play a significant role to keep innocent Afghans away from harm.
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) officials attribute the civilian casualties from combat operations to insurgents.
Since January 2010, less than 10 casualty incidents were reported in western Afghanistan.
"This low number of civilian casualties is a direct result of Afghan and international forces conducting aggressive and safe operations in the area," said Marine Corps Maj. Paul Oliver, a U.S. Special Operations spokesperson. "Their actions show the concern they have for the safety of innocent civilians."
An intercepted message from the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, revealed he directed the Taliban to capture and kill any Afghan supporting and/or working for coalition forces or the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Omar also urged the murder of any Afghan women that help or provide information to Coalition forces.
"We believe this guidance provides important insight into recent events," said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, an ISAF spokesperson. "The Taliban are causing an alarmingly high number of civilian casualties and they have also begun attacking those who have chosen to serve the people of Afghanistan as public servants."
The reduction of civilian casualties has not affected the frequency of Afghan and coalition forces security patrols in western Afghanistan. Joint forces continue to engage the people to secure their future.
"Unlike the Taliban whose senseless violence deliberately causes civilian casualties, we do our best to avoid non-combatant casualties," said Oliver. "Ultimately it's the insurgents whose intent it is to drag Afghanistan back several centuries into chaos."
Coalition officials emphasize that ISAF service members want to work alongside Afghan forces and assist Afghans.
"In our area of responsibility, all of our operations are population centric," said a Special Operations Task Force commander. "It is our goal to provide stability and security that will ultimately lead to development and greater governance."