KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2012 – The commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan reacted over the weekend to a United Nations report that notes a decline in coalition-related civilian casualties.
“Every citizen of Afghanistan must know ISAF will continue to do all we can to reduce casualties that affect the Afghan civilian population,” Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said in a statement. “This data is promising, but there is more work to be done. Even one civilian casualty is a tragedy, and I will continue to direct each member of the coalition to work to drive the number of ISAF-caused civilian casualties to zero.”
Over the past year, ISAF has taken a number of measures to protect innocent Afghan civilians from the harm caused by armed conflict, officials said, and the command continues to place significant emphasis on reinforcing the tactical directives that instruct coalition forces in safeguarding innocent civilians.
ISAF hosts conferences and training specifically devoted to reducing casualties related to both land and air operations, officials noted.
“The most striking -- and obvious -- component of the report is the increasing number of civilian casualties attributed to insurgents,” Allen said in his statement, noting that improvised explosive devices now are responsible for roughly a third of civilian casualties, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report. The death toll from insurgent attacks is much too high, he added, and it deserves direct attention and action from Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s spiritual leader.
“If the insurgency has any real interest in ceasing the indiscriminate killing of Afghan civilians, they will act immediately and stop any and all actions that kill innocent men, women, and children,” Allen said.